Citizen Watch Factory Workers Strike in Shenzhen

13:35 Oct 20 2011 Shajing Bao'an Shenzhen China

Citizen Watch Factory Workers Strike in Shenzhen
From The China Post:

Some 2,000 workers at a south China factory that manufactures parts for Japanese watchmaker Citizen Holdings Co. Ltd. have been on strike since Monday over work conditions and overtime pay, Hong Kong media reported.

The strike, the latest of a series that have hit China's southern manufacturing hub in the past year, brings low pay, runaway inflation and difficult work conditions in the region into focus.

Workers at the Shenzhen factory also complained about having their salaries docked for taking washroom breaks, which they said has been a policy since 2005, according to reports in the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily and Ming Pao newspapers.

Sing Tao Daily also cited factory workers as saying that some of them were beaten and had their salaries withheld after they started going on strike.

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

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

From Xinhua via

Over 1,000 workers have been on strike since Oct. 17 over wage deductions at a factory owned by Japanese watchmaker Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. in the city of Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong province, according to local sources.

Negotiations between the workers and the factory are ongoing, despite the local government's intervention.

The strike started last Monday morning at the Guanxing Precision Machinery Product Factory, a Japanese-funded factory that manufactures watch chains for Citizen.

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 protestors also claimed that the factory has failed to issue pension payments.

The strike was triggered by an Oct. 16 meeting at which factory 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, according to a spokesman from the Human Resources Bureau of Bao'an district, where the factory is located.

An investigation by the bureau showed that the factory purchased social insurance for the workers and paid their wages according to the law. 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 factory finally replied to the strikers' complaints on Oct. 19, pledging to provide them with compensation. However, the employees have yet to call off the strike.

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

From CLB:

The eleven day strike at the Citizen Watch factory in Shenzhen has basically come to an end after an agreement was reached between the Japanese watch maker and the local government on 28 October, a worker at the factory told CLB.

The strike had escalated briefly the previous day when the Shenzhen police were called in and several workers were detained. The workers were released on the same day but could face dismissal later, the worker said.

“The majority of workers have now resumed working, with only about 100 workers in one department still on strike,” she said. “Most workers are satisfied with the agreement issued this morning.”

The agreement covers the main concerns of the factory’s 1,100 workers, including payment for a 40-minute break during overtime shifts, the provision of overdue pension and housing funds, and compensation for working in a high temperature environment. However, the agreement also states that workers who are still on strike in three days’ time will be dismissed.

The strike was sparked by a change in the salary computation method from piece-rate to a time-based system, announced on 16 October. After workers went out on strike on 17 October, the local government tried to mediate between the factory management and workers’ representatives. However, it took more than ten days to persuade the workers to resume working.

A worker told CLB that everyone had hoped to resume working as soon as possible, as they understood that the more time the strike consumed, the bigger the loss for both the factory and workers. But, she said, they would continue to strike until a satisfactory agreement could be reached.

The worker stressed that conditions at the Shenzhen factory were worse than those at the Citizen factory in nearby Dongguan, where a strike involving 2,300 workers broke out three months ago. Workers in Dongguan had to be at the factory on their own time for ten minutes before each shift but the workers in Shenzhen had to endure 40 minutes unpaid overtime for each day since 2005. In addition, workers from both factories complained about strict management, such as no toilet breaks except at designated times, and frequent punitive fines.

The Citizen strike in Shenzhen was the tenth reported this month, including three taxi drivers’ strikes, one bus drivers’ strike and one teachers’ strike. The majority of protests focused on demands for higher pay. See CLB’s 2011 strike map for more details.

See CLB’s research report Unity is Strength: The Workers’ Movement in China 2009-2011 for an overview and analysis of recent worker activism, including a profile of the strike at the Citizen factory in Dongguan.

From AFP:

[Note: though this article cites a strike happening in "November," it is probably actually this one in October].

Another two-week strike in November by nearly 1,000 workers over rest breaks and salaries paralysed a Shenzhen factory in which Japanese watchmaker Citizen has a stake.

The strike ended after factory bosses agreed to give workers 70 percent of their normal hourly rate for rest breaks.
Credibility: UP DOWN 0

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