Wednesday, March 12, 2014
IBM factory strike shows shifting China labour landscape
(Reuters) – A wildcat strike at an IBM factory in southern China illustrates how tectonic shifts under way in the country’s labor market are emboldening workers to take matters into their own hands, raising risks for multinationals. More than 1,000 workers walked off the job last week at the factory in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, after managers on March 3 announced the terms of their transfer to new ownership under Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd. Lenovo agreed in January to pay $2.3 billion for International Business Machine’s (IBM.N) low-end server business.
The strike, which continued into Sunday, fits a growing pattern of industrial activism that has emerged as China’s economy has slowed. A worsening labour shortage has shifted the balance of power in labour relations, while smartphones and social media have helped workers organise and made them more aware than ever of the changing environment, experts say.