Hundreds Workers Stage Sit-in for Unfair Compensation

China News Digest, 16 August 2001

[CND, 08/16/01] Over two hundred workers gathered in front of a factory in western Beijing on Tuesday, protesting unfair compensation and alleging official corruption, Reuters reported.

Fifty workers sat on chairs and the pavement, and 200 others wandered around the gates of the Beijing Measuring and Cutting Tools Factory. Some workers at the factory are about to lose their jobs when the 42-year-old plant moves to the neighboring Hebei province later this year.

Officials at the state-owned factory have promised to compensate workers who do not want to commute to work at the new location 2,500 yuan for every year with the factory and to offer stocks and new contracts to those who will stay with the factory.

Many workers were upset about the unfair amount of compensation offered by the plant, which was worth about 150 million yuan earlier this year. They claimed that the plant officials had taken the factory money to pay for luxury cars, expensive houses and overseas trips.

When the leader of the plant's labor union ZHANG Guoliang showed up at the scene, the protesters called him a collaborator. Zhang denied the corruption charges and claimed the protesters were simply trying to get more money. He pointed out that the factory had only made two million yuan last year. Referring to the factory's privatization plan, he said: we're just doing what you in the West have urged us to do. (LIU Weijun)