SHANGHAI — Mass protests at a major Chinese shoe factory reflect the stark changes taking place in the country’s labor market, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
Yue Yuen Holdings Inc., a Taiwanese-owned shoe manufacturer for global brands, including Nike Inc. and Adidas AG, is at the center of a massive labor protest after at least 1,000 workers took to the streets demanding better employment benefits at its factory in southern China on Tuesday, according to the state-run China Business News, or CBN.
The protests flared over the weekend in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in the south. The shoemaker said it is working to resolve the dispute, CBN reported. Phone calls to Yue Yuen outside normal office hours were not answered.
The New York-based China Labor Watch said in a statement released on Monday that it estimated “tens of thousands” of workers at Yue Yuen had gone on strike to “protest unpaid social insurance and housing fund payments and improper labor contracts.”
“This strike is likely one of the largest Chinese worker strikes in recent history,” China Labor Watch said, adding that the protests that began in early April have intensified because the factory has not completely answered the workers’ demands.
The Hong Kong-listed Yue Yuen, which has more than 40,000 employees in Dongguan, also makes shoes for Reebok, Asics and New Balance. The company did $7.58 billion in turnover in 2013.
The protests are the latest sign of the growing pressures on Chinese manufacturers. At recent textile fairs in Shanghai and Beijing, manufacturers have said worker shortages are, at times, severe due to the fact that fewer young people want to work in factories, and more are obtaining higher education or are opting to find jobs closer to home in western China, where many migrant workers in the country’s eastern manufacturing epicenters have historically come from.
As a result, workers are demanding higher wages and more benefits due to the supply-and-demand scenario turning in their favor. And it appears they are more willing to stand up to employers who do not meet their demands. Over the past decade, labor disputes have come to represent more than a third of mass protests in China, the state-owned China Daily newspaper reported in April, citing a government report.
In recent months, other multinationals have had business impacted in China due to labor disputes. Last month, more than 140 employees protested outside of a Wal-Mart store in central China over what they said was an unfair severance package after it was announced the store would close, the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin reported. Also in March, a manufacturer for Samsung raised overtime wages after more than 1,000 employees went on strike at its factory in Dongguan, China Labor Bulletin said.
Yesterday, the Parisian fashion house @azzaro_official cut the ribbon on a temeporary retrospective at the wing of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The exhibition, which shows the lasting influence of the brand’s founder Loris Azzaro, is titled “Azzaro, Fifty Sparkling Years” and presents 50 looks. In it’s ’70s heyday, fans of the brand included Jane Birkin, pictured here, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and more. See more photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@trinaturk and @macys Inc International Concepts line are linking up on a collection for summer — filled with accessories, swimwear and shoes. The collection will also include a Mr Turk men’s line, both of which are the designer’s first entry into a more accessibly priced area. “It’s very world-traveler, gypset-inspired,” said Turk. The Trina Turk x INC line will launch on May 15th. #wwdfashion
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge