China workers stop Nike, Adidas factories in 'massive strike'

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In this May 17, 2011 photo, an Indonesian man inspects a Nike shoe at a store in Jakarta, Indonesia. Workers for a Nike contractor in Indonesia say they've been physically and verbally abused for several years, with supervisors calling them "dogs," slapping them in the face, or hurling sneakers across the factory floor almost every day. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Workers at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., which employs tens of thousands of low-wage workers at factories in southern China and neighboring countries making shoes that Nike, Adidas and other Western companies sell at fat markups, have been on strike for 10 days in a dispute over pay, benefits and "improper labor contracts," reports Reuters here. 

"A spokesman for Yue Yuen said the firm, which makes shoes for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Asics and Converse with a market capitalization of some $5.59 billion, had offered an improved 'social benefit plan'," but workers refused to head back, and "scuffles" continued with police, Reuters reported.

Adds Reuters: "The strike fits a growing pattern of industrial activism that has emerged as China's economy has slowed. A worsening labor shortage has shifted the balance of power in labor relations, while smartphones and social media have helped workers organize and made them more aware than ever of the changing environment, experts say." See also a report from U.S.-based China Labor Watch here.

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