Chinese Province Guangdong Considers Wage Negotiation Law

Yet another factory stoppage in Guangdong

Authorities in China's Guangdong province on July 21 reviewed a draft of the nation's first law on wage negotiations and labor disputes to ease tensions over a spate of strikes, state media said.

The news came as the southern manufacturing hub was hit by yet another stoppage at a factory owned by Japanese firm Omron Corp, a spokesman at the company, which supplies Honda and Toyota with electronic components, said.

"Some 200-300 workers at the Guangzhou (Guangdong's capital) plant started refraining from normal work in the morning," Tsuyoshi Numata said. "These employees are demanding a monthly pay rise of 500 yuan (US$74)."

Authorities in Guangdong said one of the main purposes of the revised draft of the law was to establish a legally-binding wage negotiation mechanism, the official Xinhua news agency said.

According to the draft law, unions must organize wage negotiations between elected worker representatives and the employer when more than a fifth of workers demand a pay rise. If the employer refuses to hold or join a wage negotiation, the workers are then entitled to stop working and the employer is not allowed to fire them for doing so, the draft reads.

The draft is reportedly the most comprehensive in China, which has been hit by a series of strikes by factory workers over pay and poor conditions.

If successful, the pilot labor dispute settlement mechanism could be rolled out to the rest of the country.

The recent strikes have mostly hit foreign-invested companies. Omron, for example, has eight plants in China, and the Guangzhou factory where some have started a strike has a total of 800 workers, Numata said.

Another Japanese firm that supplies Honda with parts -- Atsumitec Co -- has also been hit by a work stoppage at one of its plants since July 12.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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