Supplier Strike Halts Toyota Plant in China

A Tianjin Toyota plant has been idled after a strike at one of its supplier factories. From the Wall Street Journal:

Toyota Motor Corp. suspended production at an assembly plant in China on Friday because of a strike at a supplier factory, as the impact of labor unrest escalates for the world’s largest auto maker in the biggest car market.

Hitoshi Yokoyama, a Beijing-based Toyota spokesman, said a shortage of certain plastic interior parts from the supplier plant, where workers have been striking since Thursday, began curtailing production at Toyota’s car plant in Tianjin Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, all three of its assembly lines had been idled.

Toyota doesn’t know how long the shutdown will last but is doing its best to resume work as soon as possible, Mr. Yokoyama said.

The Tianjin plant, which makes Corolla, Rav4 and other models and has capacity to produce 400,000 cars a year, is one of Toyota’s largest in China. It has assembly plants in three other Chinese cities—Changchun in the northeast, Chengdu in the southwest, and Guangzhou in the south.

The worker unrest at the Toyota supplier plant is part of a wave of labor action across China in recent weeks that also has hit Honda Motor Co. Honda resolved strikes at two supplier plants in the southern province of Guangdong that also temporarily halted production of vehicles.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that announced wage increases at the Honda Lock factory in Guangdong are markedly lower than what employees had expected:

Wage negotiations between workers and managers at a Honda auto parts factory here ended on Friday night with the company’s final offer of a pay increase that was substantially less than employees had been seeking, a worker involved in the discussions said.

Although a spokesman for the company said the deal effectively ended two weeks of labor unrest at the Honda Lock factory here, it was unclear Friday night whether the 1,700 employees would accept the offer on Saturday or would go back out on strike.

“We can’t predict how the rest of the employees will feel about it, and we are not so happy,” said the worker, who did not want his name printed because of concerns he might anger management and the local government, which has an ownership stake in the plant.

Most employees had returned to their jobs earlier this week after the company offered a slight pay increase and began hiring replacement workers. But the company had also agreed to meet with a group of employee representatives to negotiate a bigger raise in pay.

Friday’s final offer, the worker said, was an increase of about $44 a month in wages and benefits, less than half what the workers had been seeking when they walked off the job. Workers at the factory currently earn a base salary of $117 plus a housing allowance and bonuses.


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