'We Never Thought We'd Get Beaten Up'

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Protesting hotel workers clash with police outside the Shanghai municipal government building, Sept. 17, 2014.
Protesting hotel workers clash with police outside the Shanghai municipal government building, Sept. 17, 2014.
Photo courtesy of a protester.

Dozens of workers at the troubled Shanghai Liman SPA Hotel in Shanghai clashed with police this week after they gathered outside the city's government in protest at unpaid wages. The clashes began when municipal government officials tried to move the workers away from the street outside the government building, but failed. Eventually, the police were called, who beat up and detained at least six people, as a spa worker surnamed Ren told RFA:

Some of us went to the labor department [of the municipal government], but got no result. Otherwise we wouldn't have gathered outside the municipal government in search of our unpaid wages.

We never thought we'd get beaten up.

Some people haven't been paid in two months, and others in as long as five months [or six months].

The boss told us it was because of losses the company took on an investment; he said they had lost their investment. But this is a matter for senior management; we don't really know the details.

The hotel has already closed down, so we are very worried right now. We started out by using the labor mediation service, and we waited a couple of weeks for that. But then they came out at the end of last month and told us: "Your boss has no money; what can we do about it? Maybe you should take them to court."

We have been working for five or six months now with no pay, and the hotel has shut down; if we go to court, this could drag out even longer, and our boss hasn't declared bankruptcy.

'We are homeless'

In the meantime, what are we supposed to eat? Where are we supposed to live? The dormitories have been seized, and we are homeless.

The labor bureau doesn't understand the reasons behind this, and they don't really care about us.

We went to the justice department in the local county government, and they tried to mediate the dispute for us, but they can't do any more than that.

In the end, all we could do was go to city hall, and when we got there, nobody spoke two words to us. Instead, they just came and started beating people up.

Reported by Pan Jiaqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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