Chinese Nokia workers pledge to continue strike

Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:39am EST
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By James Pomfret

GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Striking workers at a Nokia factory in southern China on Friday threatened to extend industrial action after the company terminated the contracts of 59 employees for failing to return to work.

Hundreds of employees stopped work on Tuesday, complaining of changes in the wake of Nokia's sale of its mobile phones business to U.S. software giant Microsoft. The striking workers said they are being forced to sign new contracts with worse terms of employment.

On Friday, a photograph posted on Twitter by China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labour watchdog, showed hundreds of protestors outside the factory, holding banners that said: "If you want to change the marriage, you have to first offer compensation."

More than a dozen police cars were parked outside and riot police stood guard with dogs, said one worker, who declined to be named.

Striking employees said they were told they had violated work regulations because they refused to return to work.

"They have no grounds for firing us," said a worker named Wang, adding that he is determined to continue the strike. "We've already chosen this road to walk on, so we'll stick with it."

Lack of trust in employers has often led Chinese workers to balk at takeovers they fear will worsen employment conditions, and the confrontation in the industrial city of Dongguan marked the latest incident in a wave of industrial unrest at Chinese affiliates of foreign manufacturing companies.

However, Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson said the company has held a number of sessions with its employees over the past few days "to explain the situation and dispel the many rumors and false statements".   Continued...

Police and security guards stand outside a gate of a Nokia factory during a protest of around one hundred factory workers in Dongguan, Guangdong province November 20, 2013. REUTERS/James Pomfret