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More Chinese workers walk off job

TOKYO — Around 300 workers at a Japanese auto parts plant in China went on strike today to demand higher wages, the latest in a string of labor disputes to hit foreign companies there.

Japanese company Omron Corp. said the strike forced its factory in Guangzhou, southern China, to halt some production. The Chinese plant, which makes auto parts including window switches, employs 800 workers.

“Some 300 workers at the factory refused to work. They are demanding higher monthly salaries,” said Omron spokesman Tsuyoshi Numata.

The striking workers are demanding Omron raise their monthly salaries by 500 yuan ($74). Numata declined to reveal their current salaries and wouldn’t say which automakers the company supplies with parts.

The management of Omron, based in Kyoto, western Japan, is holding talks with the workers, the spokesman said without elaborating further. Kyodo News agency said the wage negotiations made little progress.

Employees at dozens of foreign factories in China have walked out in recent months for higher pay. China froze government-mandated minimum wages in 2008 to help companies ride out the global crisis but now that the economy and exports are rebounding, workers want a share of the higher revenues.

China’s communist government normally prohibits protests but has allowed the strikes, many of them at foreign-owned companies, apparently trying to put more money in Chinese workers’ pockets as part of efforts to boost consumer spending and reduce reliance on exports to drive economic growth.

Auto giants like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have repeatedly halted production at assembly plants in China since mid-May after parts suppliers were hit by strikes for higher wages.

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