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Strikes at Multinational Companies in China

The last quarter of 2016 witnessed a series of strikes among the employees of several multinational companies in China over ownership changes. First, on 8 November, dozens of employees went on strike at a bottling plant owned by Danone in Guangzhou that had just been sold to a local company after learning that the French multinational was refusing to offer severance payment according to the workers’ years of employment on the pretext of the unchanged corporate name. After two weeks of strike, the company agreed to meet with the workers, but on that occasion the riot police entered the factory grounds and attacked the workers, with the result that several were injured. On 10 November, workers at a smartphone camera parts factory in Guangzhou owned by Sony went on strike for two weeks after the company announced the sale of the plant to a local company. They feared that working conditions and pay would suffer and jobs would be lost under the new ownership. To end the protest, the Japanese company paid off the workers with one thousand yuan each and fired dozens of strike leaders. Finally, on 23 November, protests erupted among workers in three plants owned by Coca-Cola in Chongqing, Chengdu, and Jilin province, when it was announced that the American company was going to sell all its bottling plants in China to a Chinese state-owned food giant. The workers feared that after the sale they would lose their jobs or get lower wages, so they launched these coordinated strikes to demand the disclosure of the details of the agreement and economic compensation.

(Sources: Caixin, China Labour Bulletin, Nikkei, Red Balloon Solidarity, The Guardian)

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