Over 1,000 workers went on strike Thursday over low pay and a tightened work schedule at a factory in south China owned by the European lingerie giant Triumph International.
The strike started Thursday morning at the Hainan Youmei Underwear Company in Haikou, capital of the southernmost island province of Hainan, with over 1,000 employees complaining about the plant’s new policy that demands a faster work pace.
The recently unveiled policy requires employees to reach 40 percent in work efficiency to earn a pay bonus of 250 yuan (39 U.S. dollars).
At a salary of 700 yuan a month, workers say they can hardly make ends meet.
Wang Ruifang, a production line worker, said she has to finish her work on 40 pieces of underwear in 38 minutes to earn the 250 yuan.
The strike was triggered by a text message sent by the company’s human resources department early Thursday to over 800 workers who had complained about the new policy.
According to protesting workers, the text stated that “workers do not need to work on Thursday and Friday, and they should wait for a company notice telling them when to return.”
Workers interpreted this as a threat that they would be fired if they continued to complain.
The workers made several requests Thursday, such as a 250-yuan raise, shift changes, the elimination of the work-efficiency policy, and additional salary and bonus concessions.
A foreign employee who workers said is their boss declined to be interviewed.
The provincial trade union and local authorities have sent officials to help with negotiations between workers and the company.
This is the second strike at the plant since Triumph International opened it in 1992.
In November 2009, about 3,000 workers went on strike over low pay, bonuses, and vacation demands.