Dean Mighell has been appointed to a new Office of Solar Energy

3 09 2010

A new Office of Solar Energy and a $30 million boost to support renewable energy technology will drive new investment and the development of cleaner energy in Victoria, according to Premier John Brumby, who said a $30 million funding boost would support the development of alternative energy technologies.

This initiative is about partnering with industry to develop the technologies needed for the future to deliver clean energy for Victorian households, says the government. The funding will be available for parties interested in developing pilot-scale demonstration projects or research and development proposals for sustainable energy technologies in areas such as solar, wave, geothermal and bio-energy.

In addition to the $30 million fund, Mr Brumby announced a new Office of Solar Energy to bring together under one umbrella the work being done on solar energy in Victoria. The new office will become the first point of contact for industry, small business, the community and educational institutes looking for information about Victoria’s solar potential and work already underway.

Complementing the establishment of the Office of Solar Energy is the creation of a Medium Scale Solar Working Group, which will examine current barriers to investment and what additional measures are required to encourage the use of solar energy in Victoria. ETU secretary Dean Mighell has been appointed to the working group.

The working group will be chaired by Tony Wood, Director, Clean Energy Program of the William J Clinton Foundation, which was set up by former US President Bill Clinton to focus on worldwide issues such as climate change.

Other members include technical experts in the solar and finance industries as well as representatives from the unions, the commercial building sector and the community:

* Ian Porter – Alternative Technologies Association
* Cameron O’Reilly – Energy Retailers Association of Australia
* Andrew Blyth – Energy Networks Association
* Peter Lunt – Vic Super
* Dean Mighell – Electrical Trades Union
* Mark Twidell – Australian Solar Institute
* Mark Clover – ANZ
* Rod Menzies – Clean Energy Council
* Damon Moloney – Green Buildings Council


No Jobs on a Dead Planet

19 07 2010

In the lead up to the Federal Election neither of the major parties has tabled an adequate response to climate change.

This is a time for bold action as we enter an emergency which some are likening to a total war scenario, both in terms of the effects upon our nation and the scale of the responses required.  Due to the level of planning and regulation, and the massive engagement demanded of the Australian people and our institutions, the context of a war economy is being discussed by growing numbers of people.  With approximately two thirds of the Arctic gone, and significant rapid losses in depth at the Antarctic as well, this discussion is gaining force.

Where major political parties fail to introduce adequate measures to reduce carbon consumption, we the Australian people must participate in the new thinking towards a new zero carbon economy.  Over the next ten years we must insure an equitable Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS),

The opposing argument, which postulates that eco-systemic change must not cause the economic crisis to worsen, appears to be made up primarily of economic vested interests; their position is developing into “Jobs versus the Environment”.

All the facts lean towards a drop in employment if the status quo is maintained.  Around the world renewable energy is proving to be a viable way to secure long term jobs.  Investment in renewable energy will provide all parties across the CCS divide with an opportunity to unite around an agreed direction.

A CFMEU/Gippsland Trade and Labour Council combined initiative

In response to the threat of job loss in the power industry which is a mainstay of regional employment in the LaTrobe Valley, the Earthworker Social Enterprise Association’s (ESEA) is an initiative of the CFMEU and the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council.

Using the Everlast factory in Dandenong as a model, the Earthworker Social Enterprise Association’s (ESEA) first factory, “Eureka’s Future,” will need 12 staff members to manufacture the tank alone.  However in the early days of the Earthworker Project, most jobs will be created in the installation.  For each solar hot water system manufactured, one day of work for an installer would be required, plus some additional trade time for plumbing and electrical work (depending upon the system installed and the skills of the installer).  Eleven installers doing an installation every week day would be the minimum required to install 2400 systems.  Given the need to do site visits to quote on jobs and the variability of time required to do different installation, more than 20 installers would likely be needed to cover this level of installations.  There will also be additional staff required in sales and marketing, and over time, there will be jobs created in repairs and maintenance.

Establishing a small manufacturing facility and generating more local interest in installing solar hot water systems will therefore result in around 30 – 40 new jobs.  Making this initiative a success will then provide the enterprise with the experience to expand into a diverse range of sustainability manufacturing and installation initiatives, resulting in more job creation.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council is continuing to push ahead to establish Eureka’s Future in the Latrobe Valley, now that the initial work done by CFMEU Mining and Energy in commissioning the Business Plan is complete.

The unit we will produce is the Everlast tank, solar collectors and associated components, a unit which is already successful in the marketplace.

The plan is to start with, but not be limited to:

  • Manufacturing Jobs linked to environmental sustainability.
  • Providing jobs which never leave our shores because they are owned by union-supported Social Enterprises, affiliated to the ESEA.
  • Manufacture of Solar Hot Water Units – 26% of the household bill.
  • Organising for deferred payment either through a person’s Energy Bill, their EBA or Superannuation.
  • Ultimately diversifying into manufacture of the full range of green technologies (see below).
  • While the majority of profit will advance the Social Enterprises, we will seek to always insure that some profits are used towards the elimination of youth homelessness and the waiting list for our elderly in hospital, dental, optical, and for other social justice responsibilities. We intend to take our communities with us.

The  cooperative aims to address both the pending environmental overload and the economic issues arising from it, based on development and implementation of new technologies for energy production. It provides a regional context, at the heart of the power generation economy in the LaTrobe Valley, for staged redeployment of a workforce.

You can view details of the development at

A Viable Energy Production

The argument often made is that renewable energy cannot replace the “baseload” nature of our coal generators.  Two reasons are often given for this:

The first is that you could never harvest the amount of energy stored in fossil fuels such as coal which is quite energy dense from the wind/sun and biomass.

This is in error because we actually only need to replace the “delivered energy” service, not the energy contained in the raw coal.  According to the Federal Government’s Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator in June 2009, of the 2050PJ delivered to power stations by coal, only 388 PJ is used by industry, or less than 20%.  It is not 2050PJ we need to replace, but 388PJ.

The second reason cited against the viability of renewables is that the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine all the time.

However Australia is a vast country and our electricity system spans the eastern seaboard, with varied meteorological conditions.  Solar Thermal Plants, 97,000MW of which is now planned for Government land in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado have 17 hours of storage and run annual capacity factors of 75% very similar to Latrobe Valley 85-90% capacity factors.  Lowest sun periods in Queensland Jan/Feb correlating with the monsoon offset lowest solar incidence in the southern latitudes June/July at excellent solar sites such as Mildura.  Because Solar thermal with storage works the same as a hydro dam, in that the heat energy is stored in giant molten salt tanks (Two small 50MW plants in Spain store 1,045MWe and dispatch power each night for 7.5 hours after sun down.  Solar Thermal stations are proposed worldwide with 50MW, 250MW and 400MW turbines. They are able to provide “firming” power like a gas peaker or hydro dam, to match the supply curve of more variable wind power.

Plant Closures

We are faced with the possible phased closure of Morwell, Hazelwood and Yallourn within a very few years.  Closure of these three older plants could happen in any number of ways and will more than likely happen as a result of the combination of overseas corporations closing them down, as part of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), and/or massive pressure from populations as a result of catastrophic climate change.

CCS is something that our union will obviously pursue because in the long run, if it works as planned, it will provide valuable time and space for Australia to put the 50, 100 year and beyond-solutions we will require to maintain a relatively civilised standard of living. Employers on the other hand see things in terms of costs and return for the shareholders.  With plant closures imminent, if we are limited to negotiation with Governments and corporations with protest as our fall back, our union’s ability to defend our membership and their families into the future is under threat.  In the shorter term however, with our members as the renewable energy provider , we can begin building the alternative jobs and environment pathways straight away. Therefore our union is taking the reins and determining our own direction.

We are moving beyond protest! Wont you join us in this, our country’s work!

The Pause that Represses: Coca-Cola Pakistan Greets New Union with Death Threats, Abduction, Extortion and Dismissals

1 07 2010

The Coca-Cola factory in Multan, Pakistan, where workers are determined to resist management repression and fight for their rights.

Since forming a union at Coca-Cola’s bottling plant in the southern Pakistan city of Multan in June 2009, members have met with death threats, abduction, firings, extortion, forgery and fraud. Management’s vicious response to the workers’ fight for a union is a story drenched with violence, corruption, sleaze and escalating criminality.


The Multan plant is part of Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan Limited. (CCBPL), jointly owned by Turkish bottler Coca-Cola Icecek (CCI) and The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) based in Atlanta. TCCC, which sits atop the global Coca-Cola system, has been informed of every illegal action by the Multan management, at every stage. What is Coca-Cola, upright and socially responsible corporate citizen, doing in a dive like this? Workers throughout the Coca-Cola worldwide system are demanding answers – and want the company to clean up the operation and respect worker rights. The story begins with…

Extortion and Blackmail

The Employees’ Union Coca-Cola Beverages grew out of the organizing efforts of the IUF-affiliated National Federation of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Workers (NFFBTW), whose membership includes 3 other Coca-Cola Pakistan plants.

Management’s response to union organizing in Multan was immediately hostile. As the union prepared for its founding congress on June 19, 2009, management began a campaign of blackmail and extortion targeting the 36 sales and merchandizing officers (SMOs) at the plant identified as active union supporters. On June 8 all SMOs were ordered to sign stamped, blank legal documents (the type used for affidavits or confessions) and to hand over signed blank personal checks. Those who refused this clearly illegal order were ordered to stay in the plant and barred from their sales routes – resulting in lost sales commissions amounting to a third of their monthly income. For 20 days SMOs were harassed into handing over these checks illegally. Four who refused were ultimately dismissed, together with three “temporary” workers directly employed at the plant, all of them strong union supporters.

When the NFFBTW and IUF informed both the national management of CCBPL and TCCC in Atlanta of the new union’s formation on June 25, when it filed for registration with the District Labour Officer, management responded with escalating attacks on union officers in an attempt to force the union to disband.

Faced with threats and intimidation even before the union’s registration, union officers took pre-emptive action by filing a petition on June 26 in the Punjab Labour Court for a “stay order” that prohibits management from taking action against them. Coca-Cola Multan management promptly violated the stay order through forced transfers and dismissals. Four union officers were sent home and told not to report to work. On June 27 union president Ghulam Rasool, who has worked at the plant for 18 years, was transferred to work a long-distance truck route to the northern province of Balochistan in order to eliminate direct contact with the Multan workers. Although this transfer violated the court order, the plant general manager dismissed the law as “irrelevant”: The union has filed contempt of court charges against management for violating the stay order – a procedure that involves criminal charges against management.


Attempted registration was followed by “night visits” to the private homes of union officers on June 27 and 28; eight Coca-Cola Multan managers tried to force union officers to quit the union or sign a letter withdrawing the union’s application for registration. On the morning of June 28, union joint secretary Riaz Hussain was abducted by managers, held in an unknown location and threatened until released later that day.

Through its intervention with TCCC, the IUF secured the reinstatement of the dismissed officers and the withdrawal of the union president’s transfer, coupled with guarantees against any further harassment and intimidation. Local management promptly violated these guarantees. When the union officers returned to work on July 9 they were followed by security guards and management staff throughout the entire shift, generating a climate of fear in which union members were not able to communicate with their representatives.

Political manipulation

Management used their political connections to exert pressure on the trade union registrar to reject the union’s registration. On July 10, the District Labour Officer finally succumbed. To avoid a lengthy legal wrangle, the union decided to submit a second registration application for the same union, renamed People’s Employees Union CC Multan. The application is still awaiting approval…

Death threats…

Local management became more desperate as the IUF and the NFFBTW increased pressure on TCCC and CCBPL to respect trade union rights in Multan, resorting to death threats against union officers and their families. Unknown men began visiting the homes of the union officers, including general secretary Muhammad Ashiq Bhutta, who is also national information secretary of the NFFBTW. They delivered a clear message from Coca-Cola Multan management: withdraw from the union or you or your family members could have “an accident” and be injured or killed.

With support from the IUF and the assistance of the NFFBTW the union officers’ families were quickly moved into hiding, some as far as 300 km away.

Women Workers’ Federation rally in support of the Multan  Coke workers.

Creation of a management union

To further block any possibility of the workers winning legal recognition of their union, management set up its own ‘union’, called the “Workers Welfare (Mazdoor) Union”. Through a combination of bribery and threats, CCBPL Multan management secured registration of their fake union on August 13.

How fake is fake? When the People’s Employees Union, the workers organization Coke Multan is trying to destroy, challenged management’s attempt to register their organization, Muhammad Shafi, identified by Multan management as the Mazdoor Union’s President, submitted a statement to the labour department on October 23 testifying that he was not the president of this organization, had never submitted an application for registration, had not attended a so-called founding meeting and that any signature of thumbprint was a fake. CCBPL Multan management ordered Muhammad Shafi to withdraw his statement. He refused and faced pressure and threats. In January 2010 management approached his family and friends to pressure him to withdraw his statement or face dismissal.

From fake union to fake labour contractor…

In addition to the 7 union members dismissed in the early stages of the union struggle, management last year dismissed 20 other direct Multan employees who were active union members. The termination letters were issued by ‘Muhammad Saeed Awan Labour Contractor’ despite the fact that these workers were directly recruited by CCBPL, and had never received payment from, heard of or ever seen Saeed Awan or any representative at any time during their employment at CCBPL Multan.

The dismissal letters contain no address letterhead for the shadowy ‘Saeed Awan Labour Contractor’. The official government database on employers paying into the mandatory pension scheme contains no such entity on record as supplying labour to Coca-Cola or any other business in Pakistan. In response to three different addresses provided by the company, the hunt for Saeed Awan ended in a meeting at an office where the person who claimed to be Saeed Awan was not allowed to speak by his “minders” sent by CCBPL senior management. Tracing the source of the registered termination letters from the hastily constructed Saeed Awan Labour Contractor disclosed that were in fact mailed from the home address of a Multan ‘gate officer’ who has stated that they were written not by him but by senior management, who ordered him to sign them.

The union has since documented the massive alteration of Multan union members’ social security cards. Union members have been ordered to turn in their cards, which are returned with “Saeed Awan contractor” added in different ink after “Coca-Cola factory”.

Through crude forgery of official documents and massive fraud, management is attempting to establish the fiction that union members at CCBPL are not in fact employed by the company where they have many years of service. This of course would exclude them from any collective bargaining relationship with Coca-Cola …if Saeed Awan Labour Contractor really existed. However, if it did then CCB PL would be guilty of even more crimes under Pakistan law, since there is no legal provision for a “recruitment agency” which leaves workers with the status of “contract worker” not directly employed by the user enterprise.

CCBPL now claims a total of 283 workers at Multan are employed by ‘Saeed Awan Labour Contractor’!

Not content with extortion, fraud, abduction, illegal dismissals, contempt of court and interference in the judicial process (blocking union registration), Multan management has recently opened the use of the Multan facilities to Moeen Qureshi, a well-connected politician, former Punjab state minister of sport and the cousin and brother-in-law of Amir Qureshi, Director of the CCBPL Southern Business Unit. Moeen Qureshi has on several occasions installed himself in the factor HR manager’s office and summoned union members for meetings, threatening them and warning them to stop their involvement with the union.

May 20 union rally calls for labour laws to be implemented and respected by management.

Coke’s Multan management is as unprincipled as they are desperate to block workers from exercising their rights. Yet despite all these illegal acts and the relentless anti-union hostility of management for nearly a year, the union officers and their supporters remain steadfast in their determination to win union recognition and become the IUF’s newest members in the Coca-Cola system.

The IUF holds TCCC in Atlanta responsible for what happens at its bottlers’ operations worldwide. Violence, dismissals and pressure on workers to prevent trade union rights and recognition are criminal acts.


New agreement boosts apprenticeships at Ford Jun 23, 2010

29 06 2010

Four hundred AMWU members at Ford in Geelong and Broadmeadows have won significant improvements to apprentice intake quotas and other gains in a new collective agreement.

The agreement was reached after workers took protected industrial action during a drawn out bargaining period.

AMWU members took to the picket line in May, demanding better apprentice ratios, job security, wage increases, and a guarantee on entitlements in the event of redundancies.

This result is especially significant given Ford’s history of zero apprentice intake for the past three years, which it had proposed to continue over the next agreement. Ford has now agreed to take on 12 apprentices in 2011 and a further 6 apprentices in 2012.

In addition, Ford has agreed to overturn the original proposal to freeze fixed term and new tradespeoples’ wage rates at the base entry level of the trade classification structure.

These new improvements to the union collective agreement come on top of previous wins, including increased paid paternity leave from five to ten days; improved conditions while working in high temperatures; access to ten days training for Health and Safety representatives and Shop Steward representation for workers during the early stages of dispute settlement procedures.

AMWU organiser, Ian Thomas, says that the agreement has resulted in more job security for Ford workers and is a big win for apprentices in particular.

“It’s resulted in security of employment through the contractor clause. The apprentice intake is the best part of the agreement, along with the entry level wage rates.

“We got rid of the two-tiered wage system where new workers were started on a lower rate and didn’t get any pay rises out of the agreement until after they’d completed their first year of permanent employment, which would have lowered the hourly rate for any new people by up to $3 per hour”, he said.

According to AMWU Senior Delegate, Brad Pearson, while the agreement is improved many aspects of workers’ conditions at Ford, further improvements could still be made.

“As a result of taking industrial action we won a minimum guarantee of 18 apprentices over 2011-2012. Contractor consultation was greatly improved. The company had a proposal to freeze the wages of fixed term and new trades workers.

We got that removed from the agreement.

“Overall, it is a good agreement, apart from the wage increases. Ford is still not on par with Holden and Toyota in terms of workers’ wages, so there’s still plenty to fight for next time”, said Pearson.

Global Union Federations Demand New Priorities from G8, G20 Summits

22 06 2010
Meeting in Toronto on 19 June, 270 national trade union leaders from 50 countries put forward a stern Declaration to the G8 and G20 that a radically changed global social order must occur, one prioritizing security of employment and preservation of the environment. The Declaration, pointed at the G8 and G20 summits this week in Toronto, came from a “Triple Crisis of Sustainability” forum, a meeting of union leaders representing 55 million workers from industrial and manufacturing sectors.

The Declaration was a joint undertaking of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM), the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), and the International Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF). It was done with local cooperation by five trade unions representing industrial and other workers in Canada: Communications, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the Power Workers Union (PWU), the United Steelworkers (USW), and the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

Gianni Alioti, Federazione Lavoratori Metalmeccanici, FLM, Italy

At the core of the Declaration is a demand that finance and political ministers put in place a stringent global financial governance system, introduce an international financial transaction tax, and reach an ambitious and binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions at Cop16 in Mexico later this year.

The 10-point Declaration also calls for guarantees that fundamental workers’ and trade union rights be respected in trade and investment deals; that sustainable development be made a criteria in trade and investment agreements; and that thorough assessment and assurance of social, economic, and environment well-being is contained in trade agreements. The full Declaration can be found here.

“Industrial workers have a central role to play in building a future that lifts people out of poverty while protecting the environment,” states the Declaration. “Through industrial and political action, our three global federations demand that the world’s leaders take decisive actions to solve the economic, social, and environmental crises.”

Regarding the timing of the Declaration, ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda said, “The global economy is still on life-support and continued stimulus is needed. Re-regulating markets, a move to full employment, and a set of social stabilizers to reduce a rapid slide into poverty by hundreds of millions of people is essential.”

IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina

Added IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina: “Industry is the locomotive of national economies, as a provider of good quality jobs with decent wages and working hours, and the right to join a union. We need to limit precarious work by legislation and collective agreements, and develop industrial policies for sustainable development both in industrialised and developing countries.”

Geneva-based ICEM has 467 trade union affiliates in 132 countries, and represents 20 million workers. The IMF, also based in Geneva, represents the collective interests of 25 million metalworkers from more than 200 unions in 100 countries. The Brussels-based ITGLWF covers 217 trade unions in 110 countries.

For more, contact: Dick Blin, ICEM Information Officer,, +1 416 361 1000 Ext. 3344, +41 79 734 8994 (mobile); or Alex Ivanou, IMF Communications,, +41 22 308 5033.

Second strike hits China Toyota supplier

21 06 2010
Workers gather outside Honda Lock plant, a supplier of locks to  Honda's car-making operations in China, as they resume work in  Zhongshan, Guangdong province June 18, 2010.

Workers gather outside Honda Lock plant, a supplier of locks to Honda’s car-making operations in China, as they resume work in Zhongshan, Guangdong province June 18, 2010.


Workers also haggle hard for fresh deal at Honda lock factory

James Pomfret and Emma Graham-Harrison

Zhongshan, China — Reuters Published on Friday, Jun. 18, 2010 12:54PM EDT Last updated on Friday, Jun. 18, 2010 2:07PM EDT

A parts supplier for Japan’s Toyota Motor (TM-N71.45-0.86-1.19%) said on Friday it was dealing with its second strike in China this week, the latest in a rash of factory labour disputes across the country.

The chance of more industrial action also loomed over a Honda plant in the southern manufacturing heartland of Guangdong, where workers said there had been no apparent progress despite a Friday deadline for management to present a new pay deal.

After protracted talks between worker representatives and managers at Honda Lock that ended late on Friday, workers said the firm continued to resist raising base salaries above the 200 yuan previously offered, though biannual bonus payments and housing allowances would be raised slightly.

“Whether or not this is acceptable depends on everyone’s opinion,” said a worker source who declined to be named.

Spreading discontent among an estimated 130 million strong army of migrant workers, whose toil has powered China’s growth, could undermine the government’s legitimacy and erode the nation’s competitiveness as a low-cost global factory hub.

Wages only make up around 5 per cent of overall manufacturing costs but other inputs like energy and water are also getting more expensive. Some firms are already moving production to cheaper neighbours such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.

China’s leaders, who are obsessed by stability but also say they can ensure a better life for those at the bottom end of an expanding rich-poor gap, have muted coverage of the unrest in state media while expressing public support for workers.

Toyoda Gosei said production had stopped since Thursday afternoon at a plant in the northern port city of Tianjin, where it makes parts like instrument panels.

Workers confirmed the strike was still on. Police vehicles could be seen parked inside the factory’s grounds.

A grainy video obtained by Reuters, shot by a worker on his mobile phone inside the factory on Thursday evening, showed scuffles between police and workers, punctuated by screams of “The police are coming!”.

A separate stoppage halted work at another Toyoda Gosei plant on Tuesday, but that factory is now back at work.

In southwestern Chongqing city, a short strike at Chongqing Brewery Co. Ltd. ended on Friday after talks with management, said Danish brewer Carlsberg, a part owner of the plant, though a witness said it was continuing.

Workers feared that a plan by Carlsberg to raise its stake in the firm to nearly 30 per cent would threaten their benefits, a local official told Reuters by telephone.

“There was not good enough communication to the employees about the agreement,” said Carlsberg spokesman Jens Bekke. “They were informed, and now they have gone back to work.”

China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, this week called for higher workers’ incomes to protect stability, while Premier Wen Jiabao called for better treatment of workers.

The sympathetic, if tightly limited, accounts of worker grievances in state media suggest Beijing wants to avoid outright confrontation with the workers and may welcome some concessions.

In Guangdong, workers at the factory which makes locks for Honda Motor downed tools last week but agreed on Tuesday to go back to work until Friday on the understanding management would present them with an improved deal on wages and benefits.

While the deadline passed, a worker source said that after a flurry of last minute negotiations, the firm continued to resist raising base wages above an earlier offer.

In a text message, the source wrote that the base monthly salary of workers would be raised 200 yuan to 1,139 yuan, while a housing allowance would be increased from 300 to 380 yuan. The value of an existing twice-yearly bonus would also be hiked from 1.2 times a workers’ monthly wage to 1.5 times.

The deal fell well short of the workers’ initial demands.

“On the surface it seems we’ve won something. But in my heart I feel we’ve been defeated,” said the source who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.

Other workers debating the new deal in Internet chat rooms pledged to “strive till the end“, though it wasn’t clear if there was a large enough consensus for a fresh strike in the morning.

Both Toyota and Honda said the strikes were having no impact on car production.

Honda has also been taking dozens of potential new hires to a training centre, possibly hedging against further unrest.

The strike at Honda Lock, which manufactures locks, mirrors and wheel sensors, is the third to hit an auto parts supplier for the giant Japanese car maker in recent weeks.

Workers at Honda Lock said spreading word of successful strikes at other Honda auto parts suppliers had inspired them to agitate for improved compensation as living costs rise.

Labour relations expert Xiaoyi Wen warned more spontaneous unrest could be hard for firms to handle because workers, although unhappy, were afraid of putting themselves forward in negotiations with management for fear of repercussions.

Relations between Japanese auto firms and their Chinese units and suppliers can be more complicated than those of other foreign investors, which may have contributed to making them some of the main flashpoints for unrest in recent weeks, an expert said.

“In our investigations, we consistently found that the most tense relations were with the Japanese and South Korean partners,” said Mr. Wen, a researcher at the China Institute of Industrial Relations in Beijing who specializes in labour relations in the automotive sector.

“You find the Japanese and South Korean companies are much more involved in managing production at the factories. Also, they don’t have a tradition of collective bargaining or give-and-take in their Chinese factories,” Mr. Wen said.