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Chinese clothing sector strikes baffle experts
Jul '10
The Chinese apparel sector has been plagued by strikes in recent months, which has got manufacturers and experts closely contemplating the reasons for the emergence of strikes and have come to the conclusion that, adequate compensation should be paid to avoid street strikes by workers.

Industry experts opine that, as labor consciousness rises in China and labor shortage appears in some provinces, factory workers are more than willing to take strike work, demanding better pay and working conditions, which has increased turbulences and have affected foreign-funded and Chinese factories.

Chinese clothing and textile mills have witnessed several strikes in recent months, for example, Wantai Group in Zaozhuang, Shandong province saw a collective labor strike, while workers from Pingdingshan cotton factory protested for better salaries.

Spokesman of Hong Kong-based labor rights group - China Labor Bulletin Geoffrey Crothall said, “The Chinese workforce is feeling the gradual accumulation of pressure in recent times, because their pay has been deliberately suppressed. One strike leads to another strike and is now growing in momentum in China.

Vice chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Industries says, it is nothing new for the garment industry to hold salary negotiations as they have to increase wages before the Chinese New Year, if they want workers to return back for work. Factories in Guangdong Province increased wages by 20 percent this year and successfully attracted workers back to factories.

Willy Lin added that many garment workers are more skilled laborers compared to electronic or other technology industries and employers have to take some time on training a knitting or sewing worker after which they are able to earn about 2,000-4,000 Yuan (US $295-590) a month, far more than the minimum wage.

A recent case of 12 suicide incidents taking place in a Longhua factory after which wages were doubled, many garment manufacturers are watching follow-up effects of the events. Experts aver that the garment industry would suffer greatly if the case becomes a trend and employees from other plants will seek comparable treatment.

Crothall believes that industrial unrest may continue to increase in coming months, particularly those related to providing sound working conditions, as many factories have not improved work environment.

Fibre2fashion News Desk

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