Toyota hit by another strike in China

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Published: June 22,2010

Tags: automobile industry, labor, manufacturing, strikes

TOKYO — Toyota said it stopped production today at one of its main factories in China after a strike at a supplier, the latest labor action to hit a Japanese carmaker in recent weeks in the country.

The company’s plant in southern Guangzhou, which represents just under half of Toyota’s total capacity in the country, was stopped for both day and night shifts today, with no decision yet for operation after that, according to spokesman Paul Nolasco in Tokyo.

It was shut down after a strike by workers at a supplier run by Denso Corp. that makes electronic sensors and control components. Nolasco said he had no information on the status of the strike, and a Denso spokesman could not be reached in Tokyo.

Chinese migrant workers, the backbone of the country’s industrial sector, are becoming increasingly vocal in demands for higher wages. Several auto-related labor disputes have erupted recently in the Guangzhou region, where both Toyota and Honda have manufacturing bases with local partner Guangzhou Auto Group.

Last week, a strike at a Toyota plastic parts supplier in the northeastern Chinese city of Tainjin forced a Toyota plant there to shut down for a day. That followed a similar one-day walkout at another supplier earlier in the week.

Tuesday’s shutdown occurred at GAC Toyota Motor Company Ltd., which can produce 360,000 cars per year at full operation. Toyota has a total Chinese capacity of about 800,000 vehicles at five plants.

Earlier strikes at several Chinese suppliers of Honda Motor Co. have forced it to suspend car assembly intermittently in the past month due to a lack of parts.

Workers at Honda Lock (Guangdong) ended a strike and went back to their jobs last week after the company agreed to continue with talks on their demands for wage increases.

The increasing agitation among workers poses a problem for Japanese companies, who shifted production to China in the hopes of taking advantage of lower labor costs and cashing in on its growing consumer market.

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