Honda China supplier gets tough on striking workers

Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:48am EDT

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* Some employees return to factory but refuse to work

* Factory hires 100 replacement workers

By Alison Leung

HONG KONG, July 20 (Reuters) - A Chinese supplier of parts to Honda Motor Co (7267.T) has taken a tougher line in a labour dispute, saying it will fire some striking workers after bringing in replacements over the weekend.

Management of the factory owned by Atsumitec Co, an affiliate of Honda, said it would dismiss the nearly 200 strikers if they continued to stay off the job, a worker told Reuters on Tuesday by telephone, confirming a report from the official Xinhua news agency the previous day.

An official from Atsumitec was not available to comment.

Workers at the southern China plant handed in a letter signed by 150 of the 200 strikers demanding a wage increase of 500 yuan ($74) per month, according to the Xinhua report.

The company hired nearly 100 replacement workers on Saturday to keep the plant operating, said the worker, confirming another detail in the Xinhua report.

Fearing they might be violating rules if they did not report for work, some striking workers returned to the factory and stood at their usual stations on the production line on Tuesday but refused to work, the striking worker said.

"Some of us returned to the production line today but were stopped as the company said workers could not stay on the line if they were not working," he said, adding that those workers finally left the line and went to the pantry.

Another 20-30 workers, mostly natives of Zhongshan in Guangdong province, did not turn up on Tuesday after they were warned by local government officials that if they continued to strike they would lost some local benefits and rights.

"How can we live with just 1,000 yuan and everything is so expensive now," said the worker, who came to the plant in Foshan from a village in northwest China's Shaanxi province. "The government is not helping us and the management rejected our demands and is not talking to us."

The walkout, which entered its ninth day on Tuesday, is the latest in a string of stoppages by Chinese workers demanding a bigger piece of the country's economic wealth. (Reporting by Alison Leung; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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