So far, the strikes in China were just small – but effective – sideshows. Strike at a small, but strategically important supplier, and whole car factories shut down. That, however, only led to wage increases at the small, but strategically important supplier. Until last Wednesday.
Last Wednesday, workers at a Honda factory in Guangzhou walked out. This was the first time workers struck an auto plant, instead of Just a supplier. The Honda plant remained closed until ” workers and management reached an agreement on wage increases and other matters by Thursday evening and operations were resumed,” said an official at a local Honda unit to The Nikkei [sub] Details were not disclosed. With 1,000 workers, the plant makes 50,000 cars a year, mostly Jazz compacts for export.
The student of recent Chinese strikes may recall that Honda had been the first company to be affected. Of course, other carmakers are no bracing for similar action.
Other manufacturers take a different route. The Japanese autoparts manufacturer H-One will quadruple the number of welding robots in its three Chinese plants “in an effort to limit labor costs by increasing production line automation,” writes The Nikkei [sub]. Robots don’t strike and produce more consistent quality.