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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Honda again halts China production due to strike

TOKYO — Honda Motor Co., which has been repeatedly forced to suspend production in China due to strikes, again halted operations there Wednesday as a fresh walkout disrupted parts supplies.

Japan's No. 2 automaker said production at one of two auto assembly plants at Honda joint venture Guangqi Honda Automobile Co. was suspended. Honda said it was unclear when the plant would resume production.

The shutdown was due to a shortage of parts caused by the strike. But Honda declined to give further details, including the name of the affected parts supplier.

The suspended plant, which makes the Accord sedan and Fit hatchback, has production capacity of 240,000 vehicles per year.

Guangqi Honda already shut down production once in May and once this month due to strikes. Honda's other plants in China also halted production from late May to early June due to strikes.

Chinese workers have put up with slower wage growth during the recent economic slowdown. But as the economy — the world's third largest — has rebounded and prices rise, they are working longer hours with no appreciable improvement in income, prompting some to take action.

Fearing challenges to their hold on power, China's communist leaders ban unauthorized labor organizations and public dissent. Those who violate those bans face harassment and prosecution.

But authorities have long tolerated limited, local protests by workers unhappy over wages or other issues, perhaps recognizing the need for an outlet for such frustrations.

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