SHANGHAI, June 11 About 500 employees of a
factory in southern China owned by Swiss engineering group ABB
have gone on strike over compensation and low social
insurance contributions by the company, a worker and an activist
said on Wednesday.
The strike at Power-One, a manufacturer of solar inverters
in Shenzhen, echoes the complaints of an estimated 40,000
workers who launched China's biggest walkout in decades in April
at a huge sneaker manufacturing complex owned by Yue Yuen
Industrial Holdings Ltd, which produces footwear for
Nike Inc, Adidas AG and others.
Solar inverters are components used in solar power systems.
Officials at the Power-One Asia Pacific Electronics (Shenzhen)
Co Ltd factory, contacted by telephone, declined to comment.
Calls to Power-One's global headquarters in Italy were not
answered. The company, which says on its website that it is the
world's second largest provider of solar inverters, is owned by
ABB. The relevant officials at ABB's global headquarters did not
immediately respond to Reuters emails seeking comment.
Labor activism has surged in China in recent months as
slowing economic growth and rising costs have squeezed companies
in industrialised areas like the Pearl River Delta in southern
Guangdong province, home to the Power-One and Yue Yuen
Social insurance contributions at Power-One had been made
based on a salary substantially lower than workers' take-home
pay, labour activist Zhang Zhiru told Reuters by phone.
Chinese law requires employers to make contributions based
on a figure closer to the actual pay, lawyers say, although low
contributions are the norm at many companies. Workers at Yue
Yuen made similar demands.
The Power-One workers began the strike on Monday after
rejecting a company proposal for back-filling contributions into
China's state-run social insurance schemes, said one worker who
declined to be identified for fear of being threatened by the
company for talking to the media.
Activist Zhang said they also had problems with overtime pay
and year-end bonuses.
Low- and middle-level managers have been playing a more
active role in Chinese labour actions and Zhang
said many participants in the Power-One strike were managers.
Hong Kong-based rights watchdog China Labour Bulletin, which
tracks labour actions in China, says there have been 373 strikes
and other work stoppages so far this year, a 20 percent increase
from the same period last year.
($1 = 6.2291 yuan)
(Reporting by John Ruwitch and the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing
by Miral Fahmy)