Strike at Shenzhen Brother Industries ends after management compromise

A four day strike at the Japanese-owned Brother Industries plant in Shenzhen ended at the weekend after management offered a 100 yuan increase in the basic monthly wage and other benefits, and crucially agreed to slow down the factory’s production line and reduce employee workloads.

Several hundred workers walked out on Tuesday 7 September, complaining that they were being pushed harder all the time while their income was actually decreasing.

Employees explained that their workload had been increased to the point where one worker was now doing the work of two. At the same time overtime was being reduced, and workers were now earning 200 yuan to 300 yuan less each month. The average wage at the factory (including overtime, etc) was between 1,700 yuan and 2,000 yuan a month, they said.

In addition, workers complained that their housing subsidy remained fixed at 150 yuan a month while housing costs were constantly increasing, and that the quality of the food in the staff canteen had deteriorated to the point it was only fit for rabbits, consisting of cabbage and carrots. Many workers now spent their already reduced salary on food from cafes and shops outside the factory.

Around 9.am on Tuesday, the workers stopped the production line and demanded talks with management to address their grievances. When management refused to meet, the predominately female workforce took to the streets shouting “Heavy workload, no increase in pay, you are treating us like rabbits.”

Government officials and police from Shenzhen’s Longgang district arrived at the factory in the afternoon, and the workers eventually agreed to move back inside the factory compound while negotiations with management got underway. The dispute has yet to be resolved.
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