Xiaolan, Zhongshan Honda Lock Co. Strike

13:38 Jun 9 2010 Xiaolanzhen, Zhongshan, Guangdong, China, 528415

Xiaolan, Zhongshan Honda Lock Co. Strike
From NY Times:

ZHONGSHAN, China — Cracks emerged on Saturday afternoon in the unity of workers on strike at a Honda auto parts factory in southeastern China, the latest in a series of strikes in China in which blue-collar employees have demanded sharply higher wages.

Takayuki Fujii, a Honda spokesman in Beijing, said that the parts factory here in Zhongshan had resumed partial operations. But he said that he did not have details on how many workers had returned or the terms on which they had done so.

Three workers said in separate telephone interviews that the strike continued and had not been settled. But one of the three, an activist in the strike, said that “four or five workers” had gone back into the factory and restarted the equipment for one small assembly line.

One of the strike’s leaders was so intimidated during a meeting on Saturday morning with management, local authorities and representatives of the national, government-controlled union that he immediately stopped participating in the leadership of the strike and has gone into hiding, the activist added.

The 1,700-employee factory manufactures locks, rear and side mirrors and many other low-value auto parts for Honda assembly plants all over the world. The sprawling, two-story white building houses many different short assembly lines.

Mr. Fujii said that, “some processes are fully operating.”

The strike started on Wednesday morning, and workers’ anger boiled over into a rare protest march down a city street on Friday morning.

Honda owns 65 percent of the factory, located in the Xiaolan district of Zhongshan, and a local company, Xiang Suo, owns the rest. The workers are seeking a near doubling of their current wages of $132 a month; according to the workers, factory management is now offering a raise of $14.60 a month, along with an increase of $7.30 a month in their food and housing allowance, which is $43.80 a month.

Hilda Wang contributed reporting.

From Lance Carter in Insurgent Notes:

I went down to the Pearl River Delta toward the end of July, after the last reported strike had ended. In addition to meeting with workers and various labor NGOs, I was able to spend a day walking around the industrial district of Xiaolan. Xiaolan is the manufacturing town in Zhongshan where the Honda Lock workers went on strike. Gated factory complexes, many employing over 10,000 workers, ran endlessly along the industrial district’s main strip. About a third of the vehicles I saw on the road were shipping trucks. And I was told that workers who are not native to Xiaolan—and therefore have no residence permit—make up sixty percent of the population.

From June 9th to June 18th, Honda Lock workers in Xiaolan went on strike in defiance of management. Like Nanhai Honda, Honda Lock was one of the few strikes where workers demanded the reelection of union officials. Unlike the Nanhai strike however, management decided to take a hard-line stance and workers were forced to retreat from many of their original demands. After six days of struggle and three days of waiting,[9] workers at Honda Lock finally settled for a meager ¥200 pay increase and an ¥80 housing subsidy per month. This puts Honda Lock on a par with only the Toyota Gosei strike in Tianjin in the minimal amount of concessions won. The strike was described to me rather candidly by one worker as “a failure.” Demands for union reelections were never seriously addressed, as they were at Nanhai. Instead, workers were told that “the company has no authority over such matters.” This seems incredibly two-faced being that Honda Lock is a joint venture with thirty percent ownership held by the Xiaolan government! On the other hand, that is precisely why the strike had so much difficulty succeeding.
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