China shoe strike spreads, enters second week

SHANGHAI, April 21 Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:12am EDT

SHANGHAI, April 21 (Reuters) - One of China's biggest strikes in years stretched into a second week on Monday, and spread from a huge shoe production complex in southern Guangdong province to a facility owned by the same company in neighbouring Jiangxi province.

Workers at the multi-factory Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd complex in the Guangdong city of Dongguan clocked in on Monday morning, but not for work, continuing a stoppage over what they say have been years of inadequate social insurance and housing provident fund contributions by the company.

In Jiangxi, more than 2,000 workers from a Yue Yuen factory that mainly produces shoes for Adidas AG went on strike on Friday and planned to continue on Monday, the U.S.-based group China Labour Watch said.

"We're continuing the strike," said one worker in Dongguan, surnamed Zhou, contacted by telephone. "We swiped our cards and then went back (home). The other production lines in the same network are striking, too."

The strike began a week ago after the company missed a deadline to address workers' concerns. Yue Yuen announced changes to employee benefits on Thursday to try to placate the workers and end the strike, but workers rejected these.

Provincial, municipal and township leaders urged Yue Yuen to resolve the workers' demands in accordance with laws and regulations, the government of the town of Gaobu, where the Yue Yuen factory complex is located, said in a statement on Monday.

"Company and worker representatives are urged to strengthen communication and consultation, publicise explanations of regulations and policies, and guide the rational expression of the aspirations of the workers," it said.

The Yue Yuen facilities in Gaobu comprise the company's biggest manufacturing centre, with 1.4 million square metres (15.1 million square feet) of floor space, according to its website. In addition to Adidas, it also makes shoes for Nike Inc , Saucony and other global brands, workers said.

A company executive said last week there were about 40,000 employees at the Gaobu complex.

Several workers in Gaobu said the entire workforce was on strike. Labour activists say the strike is the biggest in China in recent memory. (Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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