October 24, 2011 / 10:06 AM / 8 years ago

Government mediating in south China strike-Xinhua

BEIJING, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The Chinese government is helping to mediate in a strike at a factory that makes parts for Japanese watchmaker Citizen Holdings Co Ltd , Xinhua news agency said on Monday, the latest stoppage to hit the South China manufacturing hub.

The walkout by more than 1,000 workers has brought low pay, runaway inflation and difficult work conditions in the region into focus once again.

Xinhua said negotiations between the workers and the factory’s management in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen had been proceeding since the strike began one week ago.

“The factory’s 1,178 employees complained that the factory has deducted 40 minutes from their timecards every day since 2005 to account for the time the employees spend taking washroom breaks,” the report said.

“The protesters also claimed that the factory has failed to issue pension payments.”

The strike began after managers “proposed changing the way the wages are calculated in the factory’s production department, angering the employees and causing them to request legal rights and repayment of their docked wages”, Xinhua cited a government official as saying.

“The local government has arranged for the factory’s managers to meet with the workers several times for negotiations in the wake of the strike,” the report added.

“The local government and human resources bureau are working on arranging more negotiations to help the two parties reach an agreement.”

Officials from Citizen Holdings in Japan were not immediately available for comment.

Other major manufacturers that have faced labour disputes in China over the past two years include Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group, Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd .

China will make job creation a more urgent priority in the face of slowed economic growth and weakened exports, Premier Wen Jiabao said last week.

Economic expansion slowed to 9.1 percent from a year earlier in the third quarter, its weakest pace in more than two years as euro-debt strains and a sluggish U.S. economy took a toll.

In September, consumer inflation dipped to 6.1 percent, retreating from three-year highs, but stubborn food price pressures remain a worry for policymakers. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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