Toyota Motor Corp. stopped production at its main factory in China after a strike at its plastic parts supplier, the carmaker said on Saturday, the latest in a series of labor disputes across the country.
Widening discontent among an estimated 130-million-strong pool of migrant workers, whose toil has powered China’s growth, threatens to undermine the government’s legitimacy and erode the nation’s competitiveness as a low-cost factory hub.
China’s leaders, who are obsessed by stability but also say they can ensure a better life for those at the bottom end of an expanding rich-poor gap, have muted coverage of the unrest in state media while expressing public support for workers.
Toyota said its factory at Tianjin, near Beijing, stopped production midway through the day on Friday and it was unclear if production would resume on Monday.
But workers at a Honda auto parts plant in southern China showed up for work on Saturday apparently ready to accept a new pay deal to resolve a week-long strike.
“We’re tired of all this tension,” said one young factory girl who was among hundreds streaming to work at the Honda plant.
“We just want to go back to work and see what happens.”
The Tianjin Toyota plant, with three assembly lines and a combined annual production capacity of 420,000 vehicles, was closed for the weekend, spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.
Plans for resuming production on Monday depended on securing steady supplies from strike-hit parts maker Toyoda Gosei.
Two walkouts have hit the parts supplier for Toyota. Workers at the Toyoda Gosei plant, also in Tianjin, said late on Friday the strike disrupting supply lines was still on.
A strike also began on late last week at a brewery partly owned by Danish brewer Carlsberg in the southwestern city of Chongqing but the company said the workers had returned to work Friday evening.
A Honda Motor spokeswoman said on Saturday a strike hit a factory affiliate Nihon Plast Co. in Zhongshan on Thursday and supply was temporarily disrupted.
Honda said production at the factory, which makes plastic parts such as steering wheels, had resumed on Friday but that negotiations between workers and management were still going on. Car production was not impacted.
The Nihon Plast factory also supplies steering wheels and airbags to Nissan Motor Co but a spokesman at Nissan said there had been no impact on its car production.
Workers at the Honda Lock factory walked off the job last week. They agreed to resume work on Tuesday through Friday with the understanding that management would present an improved deal on wages and benefits nearer to their initial calls for a rise in base wage levels of 700 yuan, the equivalent of just over US$100 ($140).