Workers' Deaths Lead to Riot

Protesters in southern China demand justice after the deaths of two fellow workers.

2010.10.12
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sichuanriot305.jpg Workers gather outside salary talks at a construction site in Dujiangyan, Oct. 11, 2010.
Photo provided by resident Wu

Two migrant construction workers died after being severely beaten by their employers over wage issues in southwest China’s Dujiangyan city in Sichuan province, sparking mass riots.

Some 1,000 policemen were deployed to keep several thousand protesters at bay following the incident on Oct. 11 evening, eyewitnesses and reports said.

According to a Chinese Internet message board posting, some 3,000 people took part in the demonstrations and blocked a key road in the city. A dozen of them have been arrested for questioning as the mob smashed police cars to vent their anger.

A day later, hundreds of protesters maintained their demand for justice from the police, joined by curious onlookers.
 
The two killed were among workers who demanded unpaid wages from their local employers, resulting in a fight and the duo being severely beaten.

They are believed to have died at the hospital.

Protesting conditions

In recent months, a series of suicides and strikes have hit factories in southern China as workers protested against labor conditions.

Most bosses of factories where the incidents occurred responded by increasing salaries and improving working conditions.

Taiwan-invested Foxconn, which assembles Apple's iPhone, said in June it had signed an agreement with two property management companies to take over the running of on-site housing for 450,000 of its migrant workers.

Foxconn also announced salary increases in June after 11 Chinese employees, including 10 in Shenzhen, apparently committed suicide by jumping from buildings this year.

Critics have blamed harsh working conditions at the plant for the suicides, as China faces a wave of industrial action at foreign-invested companies over pay and working conditions.

Some observers expect more strikes as reports of improved working conditions in Foxconn and other plants spreads in southern China.

Reported by Fung Riyao for RFA's Cantonese service. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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