HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of Chinese workers at a bankrupt furniture factory staged a mass rally on Thursday, facing off with riot police in the latest flare-up of industrial unrest.
Workers at the bamboo and wood furniture factory in Anji in the eastern province of Zhejiang took to the streets to demand back wages after the plant went bankrupt, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Daily said on Friday.
Chinese microblogging sites showed large numbers of riot police surrounding workers at the scene and postings said some workers had been beaten.
A rash of highly organised and potent strikes have hit the factories of a number of global brands including PepsiCo Inc, Japanese watchmaker Citizen Holdings Co Ltd, and shoemaking giant Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd.
While the reasons for the strikes have varied from factory to factory, workers have often complained that jobs and wages are under pressure as manufacturers and exporters look to cut costs in response to slowing Western orders, especially from debt-ridden Europe.
At least two strikes were still simmering at the Singapore-owned Hi-P International Ltd factory, which makes electronics for clients including Apple Inc, with workers demanding compensation for a factory relocation they fear could lead to layoffs.
About 100 Hi-P workers gathered outside a Shanghai government office on Thursday to petition the authorities for help, but dispersed without incident after police arrived.
In the Pearl River Delta plant of Hitachi Ltd-owned Hailiang Storage Products, nearly 800 workers continued to strike, staging a peaceful sit-in in front of the factory on Thursday, labour advocacy group China Labor Watch reported.
Workers were angered that their seniority and benefits may be eroded once a takeover of the factory by Western Digital Corp goes through in March next year.
The group urged “both factories to address their workers’ problems with their opaque and unfair management styles and bring their workers into the decision-making process.”