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Hundreds of Chinese Workers Strike at Fast Retailing Supplier

A strike by about 900 workers at a factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen that supplies Fast Retailing, the Japanese parent company of Uniqlo, Theory and Helmut Lang, has entered its ninth day, forcing production to cease.

According to Alexandra Chan, a spokesperson for Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), workers at Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Co., started striking on June 8 to protest the purported relocation of production.

Hong Kong-based Lever Style Inc., which owns the garment factory and also produces pieces for Armani Exchange and Calvin Klein, has been moving manufacturing from China to other (cheaper) Southeast Asian nations, predominantly Vietnam, over the past few years. In a Wall Street Journal article from May 2013, Lever Style said it expected about half its clothing to be made outside China within five years.

Now the company is transferring equipment out of the Shenzhen factory, Chan told Bloomberg, and firing older workers as it plans to relocate the facility. In response, some 500 employees are sleeping in the plant to prevent more machines being moved out, she said, and demanding the dismissed workers be re-hired.

Fast Retailing has urged Lever Style management to reach a peaceful resolution with the strikers, the company said in an emailed statement after checking on the status of the factory on Tuesday.

Nearly 1,000 workers at Artigas also staged a strike last December against the factory’s insufficient contribution of social insurance and housing provident fund.