China charges labour activist after Yue Yuen strike

Workers protest during a strike as police stand guard at a crossroads near the factory area of Yue Yuen Industrial, in Dongguan, Guangdong province (18 April 2014) Workers have been protesting for increased social benefits and overtime payments

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Police in China have formally charged a labour activist with disturbing public order, reports say, following one of the country's biggest strikes in years.

Lin Dong, who works at a labour dispute service, was charged with helping to organise protests, his colleague said.

Workers at the shoe factories in the southern city of Dongguan have been protesting for more than two weeks over their social security contributions.

The Taiwanese firm Yue Yuen makes shoes for brands like Nike and Reebok.

More than 40,000 workers in Dongguan, Guangdong province, had refused to report to work.

They had been pushing Yue Yuen's Taiwanese parent company, Pou Chen, for increased social benefits, compensation for overtime, housing benefits and a salary increase.

On Thursday, police detained Lin Dong and another activist, Zhang Zhiru, who was released a day later.

A majority of the workers have reportedly returned to the factories. However, details surrounding their return were not immediately clear.

Strikes are common in the city of Dongguan one of China's main manufacturing hubs, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing.

But the scale and duration of this walk-out would have worried the authorities, fearing it could trigger wider social unrest, our correspondent adds.

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