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Chinese sneaker factory employees go on strike

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 8:20 am

HONG KONG – Workers at a Chinese factory owned by Yue Yuen, the world's largest maker of athletic footwear for brands such as Nike and Adidas, are striking in a dispute over benefits. A worker said more than 10,000 employees at Yue Yuen Industrial's plant in the southern province of Guangdong joined the strike Tuesday.

The number could not be independently verified. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The Taiwanese-owned company, which employs about 60,000 workers in the Dongguan district, also makes shoes for Reebok, Asics, New Balance, Timberland and other brands at factories in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico and the United States. The company made 323.3 million pairs of shoes in the 15 months to December 2012.

It's the latest labor dispute to flare up in southern China's Pearl River Delta manufacturing heartland, where factories face a growing shortage of migrant workers.

The worker, Cui Tiangang, and labor groups said workers are upset because the company failed to pay full social security and housing fund contributions. The strike started April 5 and resumed Monday when the demands were not met, according to China Labor Watch. Cui, a 31-year-old who cuts and glues rubber soles, said only two to three of the 10 plants in the Yue Yuen complex were operating because of the strike.