Workers at Dongguan Stella Footwear Co., which supplies global brands like Prada, Nike and Adidas, went on strike this week to protest a decision by the factory management to deny housing-benefit payments to certain groups of employees, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The company, a unit of Hong Kong-listed Stella International Holdings Ltd.(01836.HK), is said to have told workers recently that it will pay housing benefits only to employees who bought or were renting apartments in Dongguan.
The move angered workers who didn’t qualify, the report said, citing workers and labor activists.
“We want a proper explanation from the factory as to why they are doing this,” a worker named Liu Zaiyuan, who is said to have worked at Stella Footwear for eight years, was quoted as saying.
“For years, they haven’t been properly paying into our social-insurance and housing-benefit funds, and we want them to give us what is rightfully ours.”
A spokeswoman for Stella International disputed claims by workers and activists that as many as 5,000 people took part in the strike, the Journal said.
Only “a few hundred workers” had participated in the protest, the spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
“Discussions are still ongoing, but as of this morning (Wednesday), almost all workers have returned to work,” the spokeswoman said.
But a labor activist named Zhang Zhiru was quoted as saying that some workers were continuing the strike by staying idle within the factory premises.
Stella International operates several factories in China including Stella Footwear, which was set up in 2003 to produce women’s casual and fashion footwear.
The Dongguan plant is said to employ around 10,000 people.
According to workers and activists, some employees were injured by police as officers attempted to quell the unrest, the report said.
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