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Angry Panasonic workers block managers in office seige

MORE than 600 workers at a Panasonic factory in Beijing kept their managers locked in an office for nearly six hours after the firm announced a plan to lay off 70 percent of the staff.

The conflict broke out soon after a staff conference chaired by three Japanese managers on Wednesday afternoon when they revealed compensation details for the retirement plan at the Panasonic Electronic Devices (Beijing) Co in the capital's Chaoyang District, Beijing Times reported today.

Workers at the plant will receive compensation according to their length of employment and current monthly salary. There will be different assessments for female and male workers.

The plan angered many workers who said middle-level managers will get up to 10 times more as their salaries are much higher.

Guo Hongwu, a worker who has been at the plant since it began in 1993, told the newspaper that he could only get 40,000 yuan under the plan as he was paid just 1,050 yuan a month.

"If the company chose to sack employees, it would have to pay much under China's labor regulations," Guo added.

Workers demanded that the payout be based on length of employment only but the Japanese company officials rejected this.

Guo said workers were told about the retirement plan on February 20. They were told the plant would be closed shortly because of falling demand.

Dissatisfied with the plan, the angry workers surrounded and blocked the managers in an office at 5pm but the Japanese escaped through a back door at 11:15pm.

Representatives of workers told the paper that they would report to the local labor bureau.

Panasonic has three plants in Beijing with more than 6,800 Chinese employees.

Panasonic, the world's largest maker of consumer electronics, earlier this month announced plans to cut about 15,000 jobs around the world and forecast its first loss in six years as the deepening recession hurts demand for televisions and cameras. The company also said it will close about 20 percent of its factories.


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