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Fifty striking Chinese workers hurt in clashes
Some 50 workers striking at a Taiwan-funded factory in eastern China were injured, five seriously, after clashing with security forces earlier this week, Chinese state media said Wednesday. A strike halted production by carmaker Honda for the third day running on Wednesday.
Recent clashes and walkouts throughout China have called attention to the poor working conditions in many factories.
About 2,000 assembly line workers at the KOK Machinery factory in the city of Kunshan tried to take their protests onto the street on Monday and were prevented from exiting.
Photos of the skirmish showed police and special forces outside the gates of the facility preventing workers from leaving. The South China Morning Post reports that at least 30 people were arrested.
"The police beat us indiscriminately. they kicked and stomped on everybody, no matter whether they were male or female," one female worker told the paper.
KOK Machinery officials refused to comment on the strike, but said that the workers had gone back to their jobs.
Correspondent Anne Meijdam in Beijing says that the labour struggles are getting serious, especially because currently there is a labour shortage in China.
"In fact, it might be the end of China as the 'factory of the world'," says Meijdam. "The previous generations of workers who were people who were desperately poor. Right now we are talking about labourers who were born in the '80s...and have it a little bit better than their parents," he says.
China has been hit with a series of strikes over the past few weeks. Labour problems in China have been highlighted with the recent spate of suicides at Taiwanese high-tech company Foxconn. Foxconn is the main supplier of Apple iPhones.
Workers are seeking hardship pay for working in high temperatures, some of up to 50 degrees Celsius, according to Chinese chatroom postings. They are also seeking full workers' insurance, housing subsidies, and making work on saturdays voluntary.