A new strike by Honda workers shows trade union’s weakness after its reorganisation

On 18th March workers at Nanhai Honda once again went on strike. The strike was a result of workers’ dissatisfaction with the proposed salary adjustment program put forward by the company and enterprise union. The workers believed that the program was only beneficial to higher level workers and disadvantaged lower level employees, who were only initially offered a much smaller wage increase of 10.2% (220 Yuan) for the first level and 12.3% (330 Yuan) for the second level. This is compared with a raise of 19.8% for both the third and fourth level and 18% for the fifth level. As a result of the strike, workers on the two lower levels were subsequently offered a higher wage rise of 14.4% (310 Yuan) and 16% (430 Yuan), as well as an addition 50 Yuan housing subsidy for all workers. The strike ended quickly with the workers accepting the new proposal. This strike seems to show that, despite the reorganisation of the union following their strike in 2010, the strength of the trade union today in defending workers’ interests does not seem to be very strong. Rather it shows inadequate communication with grassroots workers who once again had to bypass the union and start a strike to protect their own interests. Indeed since 2010, although the union has played a part in the negotiation of the wage adjustment programs each year, it appears increasingly inadequate in putting forward strong demands and the percentage wage increase negotiated has diminished each year. With regards to the attitude of the trade union towards this wage consultation, workers have responded that the union’s attitude is that of a manager’s; its position is basically the same as the company’s.

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