04/16/2014, 00.00
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Dongguan: 40,000 workers down tools again

Strike hits Yue Yuen, a company that works for giants such as Nike, Adidas and Timberland. Workers complain about the level of payments for pensions, want higher wages, better medical insurance, and injury compensation.

Dongguan City (AsiaNews) - Garment workers in Dongguan who stopped yesterday the strike they launched on Monday have downed their tools again today.

The work stoppage is ostensibly over wages and involves an estimated 40,000 workers at seven Yue Yuen factories in the city. However, company officials said that only about a thousand people are out on the picket line.

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Limited is an original design manufacturer for major international brand name companies like Nike, Adidas, and Timberland.

Its workers want better wages, medical insurance, housing allowances and injury compensation.

These issues have given Chinese manufacturing an edge over the rest of the world thanks to loose legislation. Even what laws do exist, they are rarely enforced. This is why the world's biggest garment companies have outsourced to the mainland and improved their profit margins.

Nevertheless, growing social unrest and fresh strikes, which have been occurring on a regular basis for about three years, show that ordinary Chinese are no longer willing to accept these conditions.

In responding to the strike, which led to the deployment of hundreds of police officers, Yue Yuen announced a new social benefits plan for its workers.

A spokesperson for the company also said the impact of the stoppages on the business had been "mild" so far.

Workers however seem willing to continue until their demands are met, especially with regards to pensions.

"Many of us began to find out our social insurance contribution from our employers were at least 200 yuan short every month, dating back nearly two decades," said a 40-year-old worker who did not wish to be named.

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