Workers on strike at some plants of Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings in Dongguan in the Guangdong province on Tuesday rejected management's latest offer in an ongoing labor dispute. With the strike at the world's largest maker of athletic shoes entering its 7th workday since starting on April 14, the continuation promises to derail production for a host of athletic brands.
Up to 40,000 workers have held street protests at Yue Yuen’s massive factory complex in southern China since last week to demand full payment of social insurance and housing benefits, according to state media.
Tens of thousands of workers remained off the job Tuesday, according to workers and labor groups, after rejecting the company's latest offer, which included making up back payments for social security and housing, full contributions for those benefits starting May 1 and a $37 monthly cost of living allowance.
The striking workers are demanding a 30 percent pay raise and firm guarantees regarding future benefit contributions. The strikers also say the current deal would require them to make up their share of missed contributions from the past which they cannot afford. Furthermore, workers want their own representatives to negotiate with management rather than just waiting out a series of slightly better offers.
Another, smaller Yue Yuen plant in Jiangxi province was hit by a brief strike on Monday that also centered on social security payments. The reason, however, was that they didn't want to make full payments, which would leave them with less take-home pay. The dispute ended after the plant, which employs 6,000, enlisted local government officials to tell the workers the payments are required by law.
The walkout at Yue Yuen is China’s first large-scale strike in which workers asked for better social security benefits. In protests past, China’s workers have typically pushed for higher wages and overtime compensation, but as many laborers approach retirement age, more are also thinking about their social safety net.