Honda assessing impact of latest supplier strike

Tue, 06/08/2010 - 7:05pm
ELAINE KURTENBACH - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

Honda Motor Co. has suspended production at two of its factories due to a walkout by some workers at a parts supplier in China, though authorities said Wednesday that the dispute has been resolved.

The disruptions came just days after Honda settled a two-week strike at a wholly owned parts supplier that froze car production at four factories due to a lack of parts.

Due to a "labor dispute" production was suspended Wednesday at Guangqi Honda Automobile Co.'s two plants, the company said in a statement.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that 200 workers at Foshan Fengfu Autoparts Co., which is 65 percent owned by Honda subsidiary Yutaka Giken Co., ended their strike after reaching an agreement with management.

The agreement calls for Foshan Fengfu, located in Foshan, a city in southern China's Guangdong province, to draw up plans for wage hikes within 10 days, and not to fire anyone involved in the strike, it said.

Foshan Fengfu, a joint venture with Taiwanese firm Moonstone Holding Co., makes exhaust pipes and other parts for Honda's Odyssey, Accord and Fit models.

The conflicts reflect rising tensions between workers and foreign companies that rely on China as a source of cheap labor and a fast-growing market. Companies in China are finding it harder to attract and keep workers, who are demanding better pay and working conditions.

Wage disputes and strikes are common in China, but rarely attract as much attention as the Honda-related strikes and other disputes that have surfaced in recent days.

Merry Electronics Shenzhen Co., a factory in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, said Tuesday that it had resolved a strike that began over the weekend by workers who were disgruntled over pay and working hours.

"The strike is over now and the problem has been resolved," said a female staffer who answered the phone at Merry Electronics' factory, which has more than 10,000 workers. She would give only her surname, Zhen.

Workers were unhappy over working extra weekend shifts without extra pay and because the company had allegedly not followed up on an earlier promise to raise base pay to 1,050 yuan ($154) from the current 900 yuan ($132), the state-run newspaper China Daily and other reports said.

Video clips on a labor-oriented Web site showed hundreds of workers in white shirts and black pants blocking streets near the factory.

The latest spate of higher profile labor disputes followed news of 11 suicides and three suicide attempts — mostly by jumping off tall buildings — at Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, a contract manufacturer in China of iPhones and other name-brand electronics.

Labor activists accuse the company of having a rigid management style, an excessively fast assembly line and forced overwork, but Foxconn denies the allegations.

Foxconn — the world's largest contract maker of electronics — announced two pay raises for its Chinese workers after the recent suicides. It also is installing safety nets around buildings and hiring more counselors.

Protesters picketed Foxconn's annual general meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday, accusing both the Apple Inc. supplier and computer giant of poor corporate ethics.

The 30 demonstrators held signs saying, "Workers are not machines. They have self-esteem," outside a hotel function room where shareholders of Hong Kong-listed Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. were meeting.

Organizer Debby Chan accused Foxconn of poor management and urged the company to let workers set up an independent union. She said Apple should do a better job of monitoring labor and safety standards at its suppliers.

Calls to Apple and Foxconn went unanswered, and there was no immediate response to e-mails seeking comment.


Associated Press writer Min Lee in Hong Kong and researcher Ji Chen in Shanghai contributed to this report.


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