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Workers angry at takeover halt production in 'silent strike'

[ 2009-08-20 14:17]     字号 [] [] []  
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SHANGHAI: Workers at an aluminum plant infuriated over a takeover are refusing to work in a "silent strike".

Workers at Alcoa (Shanghai) Aluminum Products Co Ltd became irate and took the action after learning their company was sold without informing them beforehand.

Not only that, no one explained the consequences of being taken over by State-owned Yunnan Metallugical Group Co Ltd. (YMGCL), or promised them the same salary and working conditions as before.

A majority of Alcoa employees continue to show up at the company, but refuse to work.

"It's not convenient for me to talk about this," said a worker riding a bicycle, who confirmed to China Daily that production had been suspended since last Wednesday.

A deal signed Aug 12 allowed YMGCL to buy a 100-percent stake of Alcoa's Shanghai division for 20 million yuan ($2.9 million). The takeover was to be complete before Sept 30.

A head technician at Alcoa said announcements posted in the workshops said nothing would change after the takeover, and asked for employees to return to work.

According to him, the silent strike has caused huge losses.

"The factory rolls out 2,000 to 3,000 tons of aluminum products every day, and the gross profit of any single ton can reach 400 yuan. You can realize the magnitude of the losses," he noted.

More crucially, aluminum foil, the company's main product, becomes oxidized in hot, humid air if it is not packaged in time. That means the longer the strike lasts, the more product will turn useless.

There are signs Alcoa's clients may turn to other suppliers for aluminum products, offering an opportunity for the company's competitors.

"This is supposed to be a good deal for both companies, but not necessarily for its employees," said Huang Hao, an analyst with Sealand Securities.

"Generally speaking, a foreign venture like Alcoa will offer better salary packages than a State-owned company, especially remotely located YMGCL. If no clear and written promise is made, the workers have reason to worry about their jobs," Huang added.

Management from Alcoa and YMGCL were unavailable for comment yesterday.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Workers angry at takeover halt production in 'silent strike'

Workers angry at takeover halt production in 'silent strike'Brendan joined The China Daily in 2007 as a language polisher in the Language Tips Department, where he writes a regular column for Chinese English Language learners, reads audio news for listeners and anchors the weekly video news in addition to assisting with on location stories. Elsewhere he writes Op'Ed pieces with a China focus that feature in the Daily's Website opinion section.

He received his B.A. and Post Grad Dip from Curtin University in 1997 and his Masters in Community Development and Management from Charles Darwin University in 2003. He has taught in Japan, England, Australia and most recently China. His articles have featured in the Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, The Asia News Network and in-flight magazines.