(Recasts with strike ending)
SHANGHAI, March 11 (Reuters) - Employees at a shoe factory in southern China that lists international fashion houses among its customers returned to work on Wednesday after going on strike this week over benefits, the company and a labour activist said.
The strike at Stella International Holdings Ltd’s Xing Ang factory in the city of Dongguan started on Sunday with workers concerned about government housing fund contributions and payouts.
The strike involved 5,000 to 6,000 people, according to activists and a worker, making it one of China’s biggest strikes at a factory since April last year when about 40,000 employees of Adidas and Nike supplier Yue Yuen went on strike to demand social insurance payments.
A spokeswoman for Stella International said only “a few hundred” workers had gone on strike.
“Discussions are still ongoing, but as of this morning almost all workers have returned to work,” the spokeswoman said.
The website of Stella International lists Guess? Inc , Michael Kors Holding Ltd, Prada SpA and Burberry Group Plc among its customers.
A Burberry spokeswoman said the company stopped producing at the factory in 2013. There was no immediate comment from Guess or Prada. Calls to Michael Kors went unanswered.
China’s slowing economy, rising costs and the spread of social media have driven an increase in strikes. Last year, the number of strikes more than doubled to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group.
Zhang Zhiru, a labour activist, said workers went back to their jobs on Wednesday after coming under pressure from local authorities following promises from the factory to address their problems.
Earlier, worker Liu Zai said by telephone that workers had returned to their posts under pressure but were not working. (Reporting by John Ruwitch and Alexandra Harney; Editing by Stephen Coates and Susan Thomas)