Sony has fired workers in an attempt to end strikes at one of its plants in China, the Nikkei Asian Review has reported.

Workers began striking on November 10 after the company announced that it was selling one of its camera components factories in Guangdong to a Chinese firm. Sony was forced to offload the plant – which employs around 4,000 people – amid the economic slowdown in China, Nikkei Asian Review reported. All employees were to keep their jobs under the new owner, but workers started protesting and blocking the factory entrance to delay shipments.

Workers gathering in front of Sony plant earlier in November. Photo: Weibo.

When police arrived last Tuesday, several people were injured and 11 employees – who led the protests – were arrested, the business journal reported.

This Wednesday, Sony told its workers that they would be fired unless they returned to work within the week. It has already fired 37 employees, including three managers who initiated the strike.

Workers strike in front of a Sony plant earlier in November. Photo: Weibo.

On Thursday, some operations at the plant resumed, Sina reported.

Country-wide incidents 

News of Sony’s attempts to put an end to the action came amid a handful of strikes at other Chinese factories operated by multinational corporations. This week, workers at Coca-Cola plants in three cities went on strike following the company’s announcement of its plan to sell its bottling operations in China to a Hong Kong-based company and a state-owned company.

Following reports of a police crackdown on the Coca-Cola strike in Chongqing, a spokesperson from Coca-Cola China told China Business News on Wednesday that they are explaining the restructuring to workers. The contracts of workers at bottling plants will not change, a spokesperson said. He also said that the workers’ demands for compensation had no legal basis.

Workers strike at a Coca-Cola plant in Chongqing. Photo: Weibo.

Workers at a Guangzhou plant formerly owned by Danone, a French food company, went on strike in early November after learning that the plant would be sold to a local company. Workers returned to work after they were promised that that the new corporate owner would continue negotiations on their contracts, Caixin reported on Wednesday.

Keegan Elmer, a researcher at Hong Kong-based NGO China Labour Bulletin, told HKFP previously that coordinated strikes are becoming more common as workers in China are becoming more aware of their rights.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.