China Workers Stage Walkout Over Takeover Deal

Workers worried about future of their jobs and low severance packages.

Workers at a plant in China set up by German engineering firm Putzmeister have walked off the job after a takeover by a Chinese firm, state media said on Feb. 16. Staff at Putzmeister Machinery Shanghai Co. halted work on Feb. 15 and will not return until next week due to worries over the future of their jobs and low severance packages on offer, China Business News said.

An employee of the factory confirmed workers had stopped work on Feb. 16 and would return next Feb. 20. "There's no one in the factory," he said. The number of employees participating in the labor action was not known. The factory, which makes pumps and concrete mixers, has 800 workers, according to its website.

China's construction equipment giant Sany Heavy Industry said in January it would buy family-owned Putzmeister, in a landmark overseas acquisition for a Chinese company. Sany will formally take over the factory on March 1.

Sany and a private equity firm owned by Chinese state-owned investment group Citic jointly acquired Putzmeister for 360 million euros (US$470 million).

Putzmeister described the deal as one of the biggest in Germany's so-called "Mittelstand" sector of small and medium-sized family groups which are key players in niche markets.

Sany's chairman and co-founder, Liang Wengen, is China's richest person with wealth of more than $9 billion last year, according to the annual China's rich list compiled by Forbes magazine.

China has been hit by a series of strikes nationwide since November last year, as workers voice grievances over issues such as low salaries, wage cuts and poor conditions amid cutbacks due to the global economic slowdown. In a similar case, workers at five Pepsi bottling plants across China protested last year after the beverage giant sold its plants in the country to a Japanese-Taiwanese venture.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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