Danish brewer Carlsberg said on Friday a strike at a major brewing plant in China in which it has a stake had ended after negotiations, but the Chinese firm said it had yet to resume normal production.
“It (the strike) is over,” Carlsberg spokesman Jens Bekke said. “It was due to a lack of communication.” Bekke said employees had not been adequately informed about a deal through which Carlsberg raised its stake in Chongqing Brewery Co Ltd to nearly 30 per cent and how it would affect their pay and benefits. “There was not good enough communication to the employees about the agreement,” he said.
“Yesterday there were some meetings, and they were informed, and now they have gone back to work.” But a witness on the ground, who had spoken to workers outside of the plant, said the strike was continuing.
“There are about 100 people in front of the plant. There are no police, and it all seems very peaceful,” said the witness, who asked not be identified due to the sensitivity of the strike. Pictures taken late on Friday showed several dozen workers gathered under an impromptu plastic awning, blocking one of the main entrances to the plant.
Chongqing Brewery, in statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, said the stake sale had caused employees at two plants to “have misgivings about (their) arrangements”.
“At the time of the issuing of this statement, (the plants) have yet to resume normal production,” it said. While the work stoppages had not had a great impact upon the company, they were talking with workers to “dispel their doubts as soon as possible and resume normal production”.
A Chinese government official surnamed Peng in Longquan village, where the brewery is located, earlier told Reuters that several hundred people were involved in the strike. “As far as I know, the workers are worried that foreign investment will mean an end to some of their welfare benefits,” Peng said by telephone from the southwestern city.
Chinese magazine Caixin said that about 500 workers went on strike on Thursday at two Chongqing Brewery plants after Carlsberg said it would raise its stake in the company to 29.71 per cent from the current 17.46 per cent for about 2.1 billion crowns ($380 million) to further its Asian expansion. A series of strikes have hit foreign-owned or invested companies across China over the past few weeks.