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Strikes, suicides force China wage hikes

Suicidal iPhone assemblers, striking Honda workers offered big raises as China workforce demands more

Hon Hai Group and its Foxcomm unit, which makes Apple's iPhones at a plant in China, has offered 33 percent wage hikes, to $132 a month for 12 hour days, at its plant in southern China, Bloomberg reports.

This follows news accounts of suicides by iPhone workers workers making $132 for a month of 12 hour days, which embarrassed both companies.

It also follows a 24 percent wage increase offer, to $280 a month, at Honda's auto manufacturing plants in North and South China after strikes stopped production. Unions are negotiating with the company and production remains stalled.

"After three decades of rapid growth partly driven by cheap labor, China must adjust to higher wages," says Bloomberg here.

This is going to mean higher prices for imported products, and a little less competition for battered American manufacturers, in the short run; and, over time, a stronger China consumer market, and a continued search for cheaper labor in less-developed countries as China rises.