For immediate release
Contact: Josh Goldstein, 202-637-5018
Statement by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and
United Auto Workers President Bob King
In Support of China ’s Honda Workers
June 28, 2010
America’s auto workers and observers around the world have watched with admiration as the courageous young auto workers at Honda’s Chinese factories have in the past weeks risen up in protest against the low-wage system imposed by Honda and many employers, foreign and domestic, in China .
China is a source of immense corporate profits, but too many of China ’s frontline workers remain locked in a labor regime of low wages, speed-up and long hours. Honda forces its many “interns” and contract workers to accept sub-minimum wages, below the already low wages paid regular workers, in violation of Chinese labor law. Aware of their rights as workers and citizens, more and more Chinese workers are now demanding a fair share of the wealth being they produce, decent working conditions and humane hours and the right to voice in the workplace.
In the recent weeks, workers have struck at various Honda system plants in China . At a parts plant at Honda Auto Parts Mfg. Co., Ltd, in Foshan City , Guangdong Province, the first such strike, the line workers elected representatives to negotiate with the employer for wage increases. In the words of those elected representatives,
“…. [our] fundamental demands are…salary raises…for the whole workforce including interns; improvements in the wage structure and job promotion mechanism; and last but not least, restructuring the branch trade union at Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Co.’ Ltd. Another fundamental demand… [is]…non-retaliation and no dismissal of workers participating in the strike.”
Faced with these reasonable and legal demands, Honda management at Foshan first tried to bully workers with threats of reprisals, firings, denying interns educational certificates and even violence. Eventually Honda was forced to negotiate directly with workers’ representatives at Foshan to get production back up. At other facilities, Honda continued to fire and threaten worker leaders and attempted to break strikes with low-paid scabs. All these tactics to perpetuate an unfair low-wage regime violate Chinese and international labor law.
We stand in support of China ’s Honda workers and their reasonable demands. We call on Honda to accede to their demands– to improve its wages structure and job promotion system at its China facilities by implementing genuine and continuous collective bargaining with representatives of its front-line workers. Genuine collective bargaining is a proven method of ensuring fairness and harmony in the work place.
Honda should immediately cease bullying workers, firing worker leaders, using interns and contract workers to degrade wage levels, and breaking strikes with scabs. All workers fired in the recent strikes should be reinstated immediately to their former positions.
The workers and consumers of America and the world will be watching Honda and other employers to ensure that Honda and other Chinese employers comply with core international labor rights, obey Chinese and international labor laws and bargain in good faith.