Strike Ends at Canon’s Zhuhai Factory
BEIJING (AP) _ A strike at Canon Inc.’s camera factory in southern China ended after six days with workers and management reaching an agreement on wages, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
The strike, one of the largest reported in China in recent months, may be a warning signal of wider labor discontent as inflation erodes workers’ purchasing power.
The Canon workers were demanding 50 percent wage increases. Price rises in China’s southern coastal regions reached 12 percent last year, nearly double the national average. Terms of the wage settlement were not disclosed.
Takahisa Tsuchimoto, the spokesman at Canon’s headquarters in Tokyo, said about 300 workers out of a total work force of 800 walked out March 30.
He said the strike ended Monday, after city authorities joined the negotiations, but that he did not know details of the settlement.
He said it was the first strike since the factory opened in 1990 in Zhuhai, a special economic zone. It produces 70,000 compact cameras each month.
Officials at the Zhuhai plant and the city government refused to comment on the strike. It went unmentioned in the state-controlled Chinese media.
Strikes are illegal and are rarely acknowledged, and there are no reliable statistics on their frequency.
Unofficial reports reaching Beijing indicate that work slowdowns and brief strikes occur fairly frequently, especially at small factories.
There have not been reports of widespread labor unrest since 1988-89, when workers at state-owned companies were upset by inflation that topped 30 percent and government efforts to trim bloated work forces.
Authorities responded by letting the companies hike wages and by halting the streamlining efforts, but worker unhappiness still helped fuel the 1989 pro-democracy protests.
Inflation was cooled in 1990 and 1991 but began climbing last year. At the same time, the government has renewed efforts to streamline state-owned companies, creating the potential for new unrest.