Toyota Workers Strike

Woodstock, IL

#1 Jun 18, 2010
Toyota's China Assembly Lines Vulnerable to Labor Unrest

BEIJING—Two work actions hit Toyota Motor Corp.-affiliated suppliers this week in the port city of Tianjin, prompting executives to warn that the company's assembly lines in China are vulnerable to labor turmoil that might disrupt its vehicle production.

Toyota's brush with worker unrest follows a wave of strikes and other incidents in southern China that have affected Japan's Honda Motor Co. among other companies.

"There is a fairly high risk that this type of unrest might spread to our supply chains in China," a Beijing-based Toyota executive said.

Another China-based Toyota executive said, "There is a distinct feel to this that not just us but factories around China are going to face more demands for pay hikes." He said Toyota and other manufacturers are vulnerable to labor strife because of the success of some of the recent strikes in southern China.

Executives say the Chinese central government's relatively tolerant attitude toward strikes since a series of disputes began surfacing last month may be a factor in encouraging workers to press their issues. In the recent southern China labor disputes, authorities have generally refrained form sending in police to break up strikes, a tactic often used when disputes become high-profile.

On Tuesday, a number of workers at Tianjin Star Light (Xingguang) Rubber Plastic Co., which is 51%-owned by Toyoda Gosei Co., a company in which Toyota in turn owns 42%, walked off the job, demanding a pay increase. The workers, however, quickly agreed to return to work, allowing the maker of rubber weather strips to avert a full-blown factorywide strike, which could have disrupted the Japanese auto maker's vehicle production.

In a separate incident Thursday, some 40 workers in the logistics department of another plant affiliated with Toyoda Gosei walked off the job. Later Thursday, that strike spread to part of the assembly line, to include a total of about 100 workers. A senior Japanese manager at the factory—Tianjin Toyoda Gosei Co.—said it arranged "relief workers" to come in, and the plant, with some 1,700 workers, continued to ship steering wheels and other components without much disruption. He said police had been posted outside the factory and city officials had visited to urge employees to resume work.

"But if this continues, we may disrupt production at the Toyota plant," said the Toyoda Gosei plant manager. The Tianjin Toyota plant can pump out 400,000 vehicles a year and produces the Corolla, among other vehicles.

The Toyoda Gosei manager said workers began threatening to strike a week or so ago. The plant agreed to provide a 20% wage increase Tuesday evening, and the factory's labor union formally accepted the offer Wednesday. But workers in the plant's logistics department, which handles parts deliveries to Toyota plants, began asking for a bigger pay raise.

Hitoshi Yokoyama, a Beijing-based Toyota spokesman, confirmed there was a small strike at Tianjin Star Light Tuesday and that a limited walkout was unfolding at Tianjin Toyoda Gosei Thursday. He said Toyota's vehicle-assembly operations around China remained unaffected Thursday.

Rockford, IL

#2 Oct 14, 2012
Oh no!

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