China/Hong Kong: Foshan Honda factory workers take strike action

"Strike until success – re-constructing the trade union!"

On 27 May, nearly 2000 workers at the Honda transmission factory in Foshan, an export-oriented industry city in Zhujiang Delta, near Hong Kong, went on strike, demanding higher wages and the re-instatement of sacked workers. They also aim to build a democratic, militant and independent trade union trade union.

The workers struck after lunch in their uniforms and masks and chanted, "Strike until success, re-constructing of the trade union", "fight until meeting demands" and other slogans.

On 17 May, 100-200 Foshan Honda workers went on strike demanding wage increases to RMB 2500 per month. Currently average incomes for Foshan Honda workers are RMB 1000-1200 (approx. USD180). Assembly line workers got pay increases of less than RMB 100 (USD 15) for 3 years. Workers have to live in the factory’s dormitories and pay for accommodation, boarding fees, and other charges. So after these deductions, workers only receive RMB 456 remaining (approx USD 68).

Hundreds of student trainee workers, from technical or vocational schools in the western undeveloped provinces, thousands miles away, such as Gansu or Shan’xi, can earn as little as RMB 920 (approx USD 130), which is the official minimum wage in the Foshan area. They also need to pay accommodation and boarding charges. Some young workers say that even they resigned from the factory they would not have enough money to buy a train ticket to return to their homes.

On 19 May, the Foshan local government was involved the dispute but unsurprisingly in favour of the bosses at Honda. The talks collapsed. On 26 May, the Honda Company announced a new pay scheme to wages marginally but workers refused it.

On the morning of 27 May, the Honda company require all workers to sign a "no strike undertaking" letter. The letter required employees to promise "not leading, organizing” clause and those workers would be involved in “sabotage, lockout and strike”. At the same time, the management sacked two workers, who were suspected of leading the strike.

These insulting actions incensed the workers and they all refused to sign a "no strike undertaking" letter and they demanded the reinstatement of the two sacked workers. Nearly 2,000 workers left the workshops and chanted "strike until success, re-constructing trade union!", "fight until our demands are met" and other slogans.

The strike caused four other Honda plants in China to stop production until the end of this month and Honda has lost RMB 3 hundred million (USD 44.8 million).

The strike continues and the workers need international solidarity and support!

[For background information see: http://www.nytimescom/2010/05/29/business/global/29honda.html (’Honda Strike Becomes a Rallying Point in China’) (’Strike hits Honda’s four Chinese car assembly plants’)] and Socialist Action, Hong Kong, calls for:

International support for the Foshan Honda workers’ strike

Solidarity to unite assembly line workers and office workers at Honda to defend all workers’ interests

Immediately reinstate dismissed workers and no retaliation by by the Honda management

For RMB 2500 per month for the workers and full pay during the strike

No state repression against the worker’ struggle

Support worker’s demand for "reconstructing the trade union" – for a genuinely democratic and independent trade union

Defend the workers’ right of association, collective action and striking

Fight for workers’ control and workers’ democracy

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May 2010