Up to 40,000 workers are participating in a strike in Dongguan, southern China, in a dispute over unpaid social insurance benefit. The strike began on 14 April and has steadily increased in size since.
The workers, who are employed by Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, make trainers for companies like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Puma, at a huge factory in the central Guangdong province. Yue Yuen Industrial had sales of more than $7.58 billion in 2013. The strike is one of the biggest in China's history.
One striker, who spoke to the New York Times, said she takes in about 1,300 renminbi, or $210, a month, and has paid 100 renminbi a month for social insurance, an amount she had believed the company was matching. "They haven’t been paying for us. They’re ripping us off,” the worker said.
Riot police with dogs have been mobilised against picket lines and strikers' demonstrations. On 21 April, bosses offered to increase wages by $37 per month in a bid to end the strike.
China Labor Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based NGO which raises awareness of workers' struggles in China, says there were 202 labour disputes in the country during the first quarter of 2014, mostly in the manufacturing sector, a year-on-year increase of more than 30%.