Strike at China Plant Over

Dispute at Lotte food plant was over pay

A strike at a Beijing food plant owned by South Korea's Lotte group ended on August 19 after two days of disruptions sparked by employee demands for better pay, the company said. All employees returned to work after the company reached an agreement with workers on Wednesday evening, a Seoul-based spokesman for Lotte Confectionery said.

"We have also explained the situation to Beijing authorities, and the situation is resolved," he said, refusing to give details of the agreement.

The Global Times said that more than 200 workers at the Lotte China Food Company in Beijing's southeast, which produces drinks, biscuits and chewing gum, stopped working Tuesday to protest low pay and diminishing benefits.

"This was the last remaining option," a young male worker told the newspaper on condition of anonymity. "Our patience is almost at an end." He said he had worked at the company for seven years but was paid only 960 yuan (US$140) a month -- the minimum wage set by the Beijing city government.

A number of benefits, including an annual bonus and an allowance for working in high temperatures, have not been granted for several years, he added.

No violence occurred during the strike, the report said.

It was the latest in a series of walkouts by Chinese factory workers -- many at foreign-invested firms -- over pay and conditions in the so-called "workshop of the world."

In an effort to ease worker concerns, most provinces, regions and municipalities across China have raised official minimum wages this year, with Shanghai atop the list, offering monthly pay of at least 1,120 yuan.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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