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By James Pomfret
GUANGZHOU, China Nov 22 Striking workers at a
Nokia factory in southern China on Friday threatened
to extend industrial action after the company terminated the
contracts of 59 employees for failing to return to work.
Hundreds of employees stopped work on Tuesday, complaining
of changes in the wake of Nokia's sale of its mobile phones
business to U.S. software giant Microsoft. The striking
workers said they are being forced to sign new contracts with
worse terms of employment.
On Friday, a photograph posted on Twitter by China Labour
Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labour watchdog, showed hundreds of
protestors outside the factory, holding banners that said: "If
you want to change the marriage, you have to first offer
More than a dozen police cars were parked outside and riot
police stood guard with dogs, said one worker, who declined to
Striking employees said they were told they had violated
work regulations because they refused to return to work.
"They have no grounds for firing us," said a worker named
Wang, adding that he is determined to continue the strike.
"We've already chosen this road to walk on, so we'll stick with
Lack of trust in employers has often led Chinese workers to
balk at takeovers they fear will worsen employment conditions,
and the confrontation in the industrial city of Dongguan marked
the latest incident in a wave of industrial unrest at Chinese
affiliates of foreign manufacturing companies.
However, Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson said the company has
held a number of sessions with its employees over the past few
days "to explain the situation and dispel the many rumours and
This was denied by some employees. "The company didn't send
any representative to negotiate with us; the labour union isn't
doing anything either," said one of the workers, who declined to
Dawson said that the company has "terminated the contracts
of 59 individuals who have elected not to return to work",
adding that the vast majority of the factory's 5,000 workers are
at work and manufacturing operations are continuing.
Nokia agreed in September to sell its devices and services
business and license its patents to Microsoft after failing to
recover from a late start in smartphones. The sale is due to
close in the first quarter of next year.
(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Li Hui Writing
by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by David Goodman)