Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest

10:17 Nov 25 2008 Kaida Toys Dongguan Guangdong China

Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest Kaida Toy Factory Workers Protest
From Shai Oster, the WSJ:

BEIJING -- Laid-off workers from a toy factory in southern China clashed with police Tuesday night in one of a string of labor disputes that have been reported across the nation in the face of rising unemployment.

Some 500 workers smashed windows and computers at the offices of Kaida Toys, overturning patrol cars and fighting with 1,000 police in the city of Dongguan, often called the toy-making capital of the world, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The city has been hit hard by the weakening economy and softening toy sales. In recent weeks, officials say, thousands of factories have been shut down as orders for exports dry up, sending tens of thousands of migrants back home.

Later, Xinhua reported that the protesters won several concessions, including rehiring and better severance, from the factory's Hong Kong owner, Kader Group, which earlier had said that 400 workers had been laid off.

There are signs that labor disputes are widening. Just this week, there have been at least four taxi strikes in provinces across China, including Guangdong, Sichuan, Hainan and Hunan. Taxi drivers have been complaining about high rental fees, fuel costs and lack of enforcement against unlicensed cabs -- often scoring success in concessions from the government.

Protests have even spread into the heart of Beijing. On Wednesday, some three dozen laid-off workers from a liquor factory in northern China's Heilongjiang province stood in silent protest in the lobby of the downtown headquarters of China Resources Holding Ltd., a large conglomerate with several units listed in Hong Kong. The protesters held a long white banner demanding fairer treatment in the company's layoffs and restructuring, and some said salaries hadn't been paid in months.

The incidents are the latest episodes of worker unrest that have been reported by China's official media in recent weeks. The unusual frankness reflects the concern of China's leaders about maintaining social stability and may be an attempt to limit the spread of rumors across China's active Internet by keeping ahead of the news. But it remains unclear whether the wave of stories reflects an actual increase in social instability or is just the result of greater freedom by the domestic media to cover it.

Zhou Yongkang, a politburo member and former public-security minister, warned that governments need to not overreact when handling unrest, according to a report in China Daily. "More channels should be opened to solicit public opinion, and local governments should spare no effort to solve people's problems," Mr. Zhou said, according to the report.

Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin, the publication of a nonprofit labor advocacy group, credited the response of China's government to the disputes, saying it has been "swift and generally conciliatory."
—Kersten Zhang contributed to this article.
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