Wage reports lead to factory strike

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am

More than 2,000 assembly line workers in Dongguan staged a three-day strike after state newspapers reported that authorities were considering raising the manufacturing heartland's minimum wage amid a labour shortage.

Workers at Lacquer Craft Manufacturing in Daling Mountain town complained their Taiwanese employer had refused to pay them a reasonable wage even though nearby factories had raised workers' base salaries by nearly 20 per cent.

Most workers walked out of the factory, but some were forced to stay after supervisors locked the door, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. A spokeswoman for the factory told the South China Morning Post yesterday afternoon that many workers had returned to work.

Dongguan is facing a severe labour shortage. Although overseas orders have risen since the 2008 global financial crisis, many migrant workers dissatisfied with the low salaries and high cost of living planned to seek opportunities elsewhere after the Lunar New Year holiday. Manufacturers are reportedly offering up to 600 yuan (HK$682) to middlemen for each migrant worker they recruit.

But Lacquer Craft insisted that a pay rise would harm the industry, which it said had already been hit by rising production costs and paper-thin margins. 'No [manager] should make a concession at this stage ... otherwise, the domino effect of a pay rise would undermine other manufacturers,' a senior manager told the Southern Metropolis News.

Authorities blamed the strike on the newspaper reports, published a day earlier, which said the city proposed raising the monthly minimum wage from 770 yuan to 1,000 yuan.

The city's Human Resources Bureau issued a statement on Friday saying only the provincial government had the authority to decide individual cities' minimum wages, and the province had yet to announce any new wage level.