A large-scale strike by 6,800 former textile factory workers in Xianyang city, Shaanxi Province, China, has finally come to an end according to rights group China Labour Bulletin.

It is believed that over 20 activists at the former Tianwang Textile Factory - now known as Xianyang Huarun since its takeover by the Hong Kong-based mainland Chinese conglomerate China Resources Holdings -  have been detained by police in the past fortnight in conjunction with the seven-week long strike.

The Xianyang Public Security Bureau is also said to have issued a 'wanted notice' for three other protesters, ordering them to report to the police immediately in connection with alleged criminal offences.

The workers began their strike action on 14 September in protest at attempts by China Resources Holdings to force them to sign unfair labour contracts after the factory's change of ownership.

According to the workers, China Resources demanded that all the workers accept a one-off severance payment equivalent to one month's basic salary for each year of service in the factory, after which an unknown number of the workers would be re-employed on short-term contracts of one to three years' duration.

In addition, the new contracts specified that all those re-employed by the factory had to serve a six-month 'probationary work period,'during which they would receive only 60 per cent of their new salary.

According to CLB sources, China Resources has now announced concessions to the workforce including dropping the six-month 'probationary work period' requirement from the new employment contracts and the rehiring of workers on longer-term contracts than those originally offered.

However, China Resources is still refusing to give the workers the compensation they are entitled to under relevant government regulations for their recent change of status from state-owned enterprise workers to employees of a privately owned enterprise.

Thousands of Chinese workers have lost their jobs over the past few years as large numbers of the country's state-owned factories move into private ownership.

CLB said that the length of the strike was a first for the country since it started its two-decade-old economic reform strategy.