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Toto Reaches Agreement With Striking Chinese Workers

Toto Ltd., the Japanese maker of ceramic bathroom fixtures, said it reached an agreement to end a three-day strike by its Chinese factory workers.

Employees at the Shanghai plant, who started striking on the evening of May 6, will resume work next Monday, Toto’s spokeswoman Nariko Yamashita said in a phone interview today. The Kitakyushu, Japan-based Toto said earlier the protest began after miscommunication with factory management about wages and salary structure, leading to a security camera in the plant being damaged.

Chinese workers are increasingly willing to engage in strikes to voice their concerns, as the nation’s labor pool shrinks. This has led to disruptions in the operations of International Business Machines Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a major supplier to Nike Inc. and Adidas AG, which all have been idled by labor protests so far this year,

Toto, the Japanese maker of ceramic wash basins and toilet sinks, will raise wages for employees at its Shanghai factory, and will replace the general manager at the plant as requested by the workers, Yamashita said in an interview today. The company declined to comment on how many workers were involved in the labor unrest.

The increasing number of mass labor disputes in China is a reflection of the changing mindsets of Chinese workers, said Zeng Feiyang, the manager of Guangdong Panyu Migrant Workers Centre.

“When a country reaches a certain stage of economic development, the mindsets of its citizens will also mature,” Zeng said. “In the past, if there were certain areas in life that was unfair, workers would suck it up and not complain. Now, it’s different.”

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