07/02/2010, 00.00
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Wage increases not enough: more strikes in Tianjin

The workers of Mitsumi Electric still with folded arms, despite ongoing negotiations with management. The announcement a rise in minimum wages in nine cities and provinces fails to stop workers movement.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Despite government concessions to the labour movement, strikes around the country show no sign of stopping. Mitsumi Electric Workers of Tianjin, a port town a hundred kilometres east of Beijing, voted today to continue a strike that began June 29.

The three thousand workers in the Japanese owned factory that produces electronic components (especially batteries for mobile phones), are on strike to demand wage increases. Their current salary, the workers explained, is an average of 700 Yuan (70 euros) per month, they want that doubled. A group of workers is in negotiations with the management and Tianjin government officials.

The strike in progress at Mitsumi is the latest in a series of protests by the Chinese labour movement, which since the beginning of the year has halted production in various industries - almost all owned by Japanese or Taiwanese companies - to demand better working conditions and wage increases.

The strikes came to prominence in May when the Foxxcon case exploded: theTaiwanese owned firm, which produces most of the i-Pod and i-Phone components, where ten workers committed suicide because of the inability to continue live with demands of their working conditions.

Following the wave of suicide wages were increased by almost 70%. Encouraged by this example, workers have launched strikes in some factories belonging to Honda and Toyota in China: these have resulted in wage increases of between 20 and 30%.

The central government, which fears all forms of social unrest, has up to now laid responsibility on the mistreatment of workers by foreign investors: the People's Daily, organ of the Communist Party, published a series of editorials against industry leaders "who are never satisfied with their profits".

To stop the unrest, Premier Wen Jiabao met with a group of migrant workers and describing them as his "children." Moreover, following a line set by Beijing, nine cities and provinces announced yesterday the increase in minimum wages on their territory. However, the central government has asked the police to "prevent all disorder."

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