HUNDREDS OF LAID-OFF WORKERS PROTEST IN CHINA


2001-11-28
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - Hundreds of workers laid-off by a chemical fiber factory in southeastern China staged a three-day protest this week demanding bigger severance packages, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Thursday. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, witnesses told RFA's Mandarin service, several hundred workers from the Jiangxi Chemical Fiber Factory in Nanchang blocked the road in front of the factory. Police tried to disperse the crowd with water cannons, one witness said. "They blocked the traffic. (On Wednesday), traffic police and public security officers blocked the entrance to the factory and the workers were unable to get out. On Tuesday night, they arrested one person who shouted 'Down with the Communists,'" said a witness who spoke to RFA by telephone and declined to be named. Police later arrested a second protester as well, according to one local union official. After the factory closed, said one former employee, each worker received severance pay based on the length of his or her employment. "We went to work for a new factory and are paid 350 yuan (roughly U.S. $43) a month. We used to get 500, 600, 700, or 800 yuan per month. Now the pay has virtually been cut in half." An official with the local workers' union told RFA that upon termination a worker is paid 800 yuan for each year of employment, but the total amount cannot exceed 20,000 yuan (roughly U.S. $2,500). The union official cited three protests by workers from three different factories in October and November in which thousands of workers took to the street. "Now the controversy has basically died down. The so-called reform measures will stop for the time being. The Policy dictated that you got 800 yuan for each year of employment, with a cap of 20,000 yuan. We think that's unfair. Workers in their 30s and 40s got short-changed by a lot." RFA's complete coverage is available at www.rfa.org. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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