Production at the Tianjin Mitsumi Electric Co. factory in North China has been crippled by strike action by workers.
The Japanese-owned plant employs 3,000 workers, and production was completely halted earlier this week. The workers, many of whom are economic migrants from rural China, hung banners on the factory gates reading "Human traffickers are not welcome", "We want fair treatment", and "We want a pay rise."
There were violent scenes at the factory gates as police attempted to prevent journalists from talking to strikers, who had taken up positions inside the factory complex. Police also used coaches to seal the site from the view of press cameras. The increasing levels of industrial unrest in China have been barely reported, and are subject to state censorship.
The walkout follows a wave of strike action in China, in the face of investors making the most of low wages, a ruling Communist party which has outlawed strikes, and official unions which violently suppress strike action. Foreign companies with complex supply chains, such as Japanese giants Honda and Toyota have recently seen production halted by workers' struggles, as have US-based companies such as Ingersoll-Rand Plc, which manufactures air-conditioning units. It follows growing numbers of what the Chinese government calls “mass incidents” as workers grow in confidence and assert their interests.
The strike by 1,900 workers at a Honda parts factory in Foshan, which also saw clashes, ended following employers conceding a pay rise of 24 per cent. A three-day strike by Toyota workers in Guangzhou also ended recently.