HONG KONG, April 8 Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings
Ltd, which makes shoes for global brands including
Nike Inc and adidas AG, said on Tuesday it is
in talks to resolve a dispute over employee terms and benefits
at a factory in southern China.
The demonstration, which began on Saturday, is the latest to
highlight a growing trend of industrial activism in China amid a
worsening shortage of workers that has shifted the balance of
power in labour relations.
About 600 workers took to the street in the southern Chinese
manufacturing hub of Dongguan due to a "misunderstanding" over
social security benefits and different terms for local and
migrant workers, a spokesman for Yue Yuen, the world's largest
maker of athletic shoes, told Reuters.
"The misunderstanding has to be clarified by the government,
in particular any difference between local and migrant workers
when they claim their benefits," the spokesman said.
Yue Yuen, which employs about 60,000 workers in the
district, was in talks with local government officials and
labour union representatives and hoped to resolve the issue by
April 14, the spokesman said.
Adidas said in a statement it was closely monitoring the
situation and confirmed its supplier was in talks with local
authorities to address workers' concerns.
Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month, a strike at a factory of International Business
Machines Corp in the southern boom town of Shenzhen
illustrated how significant changes in China's labour market are
emboldening workers to take matters into their own hands,
raising risks for multinationals, labour experts say.
In November, hundreds of employees stopped work at a Nokia
Oyj factory in Dongguan, complaining of changes
following Nokia's sale of its mobile phone business to Microsoft
Yuen Yuen, which listed in Hong Kong in 1992 and has a
market value of $5.4 billion, said its business in Dongguan was
operating as normal.
Shares of the company closed down 0.4 percent in Hong Kong
on Tuesday, lagging a 1 percent gain for the benchmark Hang Seng
Yue Yuen, which also makes shoes for brands Reebok, ASICS,
New Balance, Puma, Converse, Salomon and Timberland, has
factories in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the United States,
Mexico and elsewhere in Asia.
(Reporting By Donny Kwok and Alice Woodhouse; Additional
reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Writing by Anne Marie
Roantree; Editing by Christopher Cushing)