July 15 (Reuters) – A strike has broken out at a south China factory supplying parts for Japan’s Honda Motor (7267.T), the latest in a string of stoppages by Chinese workers demanding a bigger piece of the country’s economic wealth.
The strike, at Atsumitec Co. in the city of Foshan, began on Monday, with 170 workers striking after management fired about 100, a worker who declined to give his name told Reuters by telephone.
“The local government has sent police to our factory, and will be here in the afternoon,” he said.
A Honda spokeswoman in Tokyo said the factory supplies shift levers (gear sticks) to the car maker’s local plants, and said the workers had been on strike since July 12.
The strike marks the end of a couple of weeks of relative calm for foreign-run Chinese factories, which saw several weeks of work stoppages in May and June by labourers demanding higher wages.
The government appears to be prepared to let such strikes continue as a way to let wages gradually rise, said Geoffrey Crothall of the China Labour Bulletin.
“I think it’s going to happen throughout the year. It’s not going away unless the government stops it. But it’s the government’s position that they really want to raise income level in order to support the consumption growth of the country,” he said.
“This is becoming a country-wide phenomenon. The Chinese government obviously wants to increase the income level of the general public. And we are seeing rising expectations on the part of workers — people know that other factories are having these pay raises and they will expect that from their own employers.” (Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Emma Graham-Harrison in Beijing and Don Durfee in Hong Kong; Writing by Doug Young; Editing by Alex Richardson)