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Honda China strike could lead to more demands

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A strike at a Honda Motor parts supplier in southern China could augur broader demands across China’s vast manufacturing belt as workers seek a bigger piece of the nation’s growing economic wealth.

About 100 workers milled about the factory grounds of the Honda Lock plant on Monday after many of the 1,500 workers walked off the job on Wednesday.

 

The standoff in the gritty factory town of Xiaolan appeared calm, but behind the scenes, holdout strikers spoke of intimidation by officials, surveillance of phone calls and internet chatrooms, along with a campaign to hire replacements.

Police tracked reporters outside the factory and videotaped proceedings as factory workers streamed out of the factory at the end of the day. Many seemed nervous and wouldn’t talk, glancing in the direction of police walking alongside and on motorbikes.

“I can’t talk to you any more, we are under great pressure,” said one. “We will likely go back to work and see what happens.”

The strike is the latest in a series to hit factories around southern China’s Pearl River Delta and a few other regions by workers demanding a greater piece of China’s growing economic pie.

The outburst of strikes continues a pattern of recent years that took a pause at the height of the global financial crisis, said Liu Kaiming, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, a privately funded group in Shenzhen that focuses on labour issues.

The strike at Honda Lock was the third to hit a Honda parts supplier in China in the last few weeks.