Chinese Workers Fearing Job Losses Block Highway
stthomas at SPAMmidway.uchicago.edu
Thu Dec 2 07:01:30 MST 1999
Hundreds Of Chinese Workers Fearing
Job Losses Block Highway
BEIJING, Dec 2, 1999 -- (Reuters) Some 1,000 silk
factory workers who feared losing their jobs staged a
two-day protest, blocking a national highway in
southwestern China, a Hong Kong-based rights
group said Thursday.
The protest began on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday
province, the Kong-based Information Center of Human
Democratic Movement in China said.
Workers at the Hong Jiang Silk Factory, who had not been
paid for a year,
were alarmed by rumors that the factory would go bankrupt
and marched to
National Highway 318 on Tuesday, it said.
On Wednesday they protested in front of the county
carrying banners reading "Down with corruption. Down with
graft. We need
to eat. Our kids need to attend school."
The workers then marched again on the highway.
Authorities called in 120 riot police and 100 regular
officers, who arrested
three people, the information center said, adding at
least five protestors were
Tang Bo, an official at the county government, confirmed
"There were only 500 to 600 people. The workers blocked
Highway 318 for more than six hours. It was a major
400 to 500 cars could not get through," Tang told AFP
But he denied there was any injury or arrests. He also
denied workers had
not been paid for a year. Factory officials could not be
reached for comment.
The workers have vowed to continue protests, the
information center said.
It said more protests would follow after China enters the
Organization (WTO), as state companies that cannot
compete would have to
"Many people are optimistic about China's entry to WTO,
but we believe
WTO will cause more state workers to be unemployed. At
the same time,
they will not get the social welfare they previously
enjoyed," the information
In the past few decades, Chinese workers have seen
cutbacks in public
welfare, pension, housing and medical allowances, but
after China's entry into
the WTO, there will be even less of these benefits, the
China is expected to join the global trade body next
year. It negotiated trade
agreements with the United States and Canada last month
and is seeking
similar agreements with other countries in order to join
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