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CHINESE POLICE ATTACK WORKERS AHEAD OF CONFERENCE

category eastern asia | workplace struggles | non-anarchist press author Saturday October 15, 2005 02:37author by Oread Daily Report this post to the editors

Numerous sources have reported that scores of Chinese workers were injured, with more than 20 taken to hospitals, after police broke up a 10,000-strong protest over lay-offs from a state-owned steel factory in the northwestern city of Chongqing several days ago.

CHINESE POLICE ATTACK WORKERS AHEAD OF CONFERENCE

Numerous sources have reported that scores of Chinese workers were injured, with more than 20 taken to hospitals, after police broke up a 10,000-strong protest over lay-offs from a state-owned steel factory in the northwestern city of Chongqing several days ago.

Details of the incident are just now becoming more widely available.

On October 7, over 1,000 police officers seized Chongqing’s Shuangbei Garden, where several thousand sacked workers of the state-owned Chongqing Special Steel Co. Ltd. had been peacefully protesting, demanding unpaid wages, severance payments, and investigation into the company’s corruption. Eye witnesses say the police savagely beat the protesters, and many were seriously injured. They say that at least two women and a child of 7 or 8 years old died afterward.

The Australian reports that a 40-year-old protester with a bleeding and disfigured chin, who gave his name only as Cao, said another worker had his spine broken.

Cao said the medical records of those taken to hospital were confiscated so "if we come back to complain about what happened, there is no record".

Many of the protesters' families had worked for the 70-year-old factory for three generations. In July it was announced that the factory would be made bankrupt with debts of Y4.6billion ($758 million).

But the workers say it is a "fake bankruptcy". They say the profitable operations are being split off into a new company for the benefit of factory leaders. The new operation will employ only 1000 people, compared with the 18,000 employed by the Tegang plant at its peak.

The Epoch Times says that before it went bankrupt in July, the Chongqing Special Steel Co. Ltd. was a 70 years old huge state-owned enterprise. At its prime, the company had as many as 18,000 employees and was called “the mother of all industries in southwest China.” The company’s financial crisis was first exposed in early 1997 when it failed to pay its workers for five consecutive months. Until that time, the workers were told that the company was making profits.

In the following years, workers were laid off without compensation; those who stayed were often paid late or not given reimbursement for their medical bills.

The workers believe that the Chongqing Special Steel’s bankruptcy was mainly caused by corruption and corruption-related mismanagement. In 1990, the company spent over 200 million yuan (about US$25 million) purchasing a second-hand machine, which was broken and useless three years later. Another expensive machine was brought from Germany around the same time and was never put in service.

Many of the company’s transactions are questionable, say the workers. The company frequently purchased materials at prices higher than the market rate or sold its products at surprisingly low prices.

AsiaNews quotes a 41-year-old woman who said corrupt senior managers were to blame for the factory's failure. "These cadres spent 50 per cent of the company's revenue on their salaries and welfare," she said. “My family has worked for the factory for more than 50 years. We all joined the company when we were kids but now we've got nothing at the end."

The protests have been on going since August.

On 12 August, more than 2,000 laid-off workers barricaded one of the main city streets, bringing traffic to a standstill, to demand severance wages. The company managers said “they did not want to negotiate anything” with the workers who had lost their jobs and who were asking for 2,000 yuan (around 1,000 euros) per head.

The steel workers' main demand was an extremely modest one: that the factory should pay them 2,000 Yuan each in severance payment for their loss of employment.

The workers had originally planned to continue their protest on 10 October outside the venue of the Asia-Pacific Mayors' Summit, held in Chongqing on 11-14 October, but the police crackdown prevented this protest action from going ahead.

It seems that it is no coincidence that the police assault happened just one day before the fifth plenary session of the 16th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was to meet in Beijing, and four days before the fifth Asia Pacific Cities Summit was to be held in Chongqing.

Years of preparation went into the summit which is the largest international event ever hosted by the municipality. The Chongqing summit played host to 932 guests from 124 cities in 41 countries or regions, as well as 255 corporate representatives. It seems apparent that Chinese officials didn’t want a bunch of angry workers messing things up. Sources: AsiaNews.it, Epoch Times, The Australian, China Daily, China Labor Bulletin

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author by Jing Zhao - US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institutepublication date Sun Oct 16, 2005 13:00author email cpri_zhao at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for your report in English.

I was from Chongqing, and many of my relatives and friends are living there. This is a case as well as a type. The root is the current dictatorship regime in Beijing. China is in a turning point, please keep watching and help Chinese workers.

Regards,
Federation for a Democratic China
www.fdc-usa.org

Related Link: http://cpri.tripod.com
 
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