Thousands strike at Singapore firm in China

Thousands of workers at a Singapore-owned plant in China's commercial hub Shanghai staged a third day of strikes on Wednesday to demand more severance pay as the factory plans to move, strikers said.

Workers at the Flextronics plant gathered outside from Sunday night to protest after the firm said it would shift output to an existing factory in nearby Suzhou city, participants in the strike told AFP.

Flextronics said the local government had requested the factory move since the entire area would be redeveloped and added it had offered workers severance packages or jobs in Suzhou.

The plant, set up in late 2001, makes printing devices and electronic components, according to Jiading district, where it is located.

Workers said more than 2,000 employees had joined the strike, but by midday on Wednesday only a few dozen were visible at the gate of the factory.

"We're not satisfied with the current plan. Nobody wants to move to Suzhou as the salary there is lower than here," said one worker, who declined to be named.

The company was negotiating with work team leaders after offering one month's average salary for each year of service plus 1,000 yuan ($159) as a severance package, strikers said.

A Flextronics spokesman said in a statement: "We are offering employees the option of relocating... or receiving an equitable severance package that is in accordance with company customs and exceeds local laws."

The firm has operations in several cities in China, including the southern boomtown of Shenzhen near Hong Kong as well as existing plants in Suzhou.

Workers' rights group China Labor Watch urged Flextronics to allow workers the right to negotiations over the issue.

"China Labor Watch calls on Flextronics to carry out collective bargaining with the workers immediately," the New York-based group said in a statement.

China was hit by a wave of strikes late last year, as employees protested over low salaries, wage cuts and poor conditions after companies announced cutbacks due to the global economic slowdown.

In December, thousands of workers at a plant in the eastern city of Nanjing owned by South Korea's LG Group staged a three-day strike, which ended after the company agreed to double year-end bonuses.

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