A co-owner of a U.S.-based medical supplies company has been held hostage by workers at the Beijing plant after a pay dispute.
Chip Starnes, the co-proprietor of Coral Springs, Florida-based Speciality Medical Supplies said he has been held captive since last Friday (June 21) night.
Dozens of workers are demanding severance packages identical to those offered to 30 workers being laid-off from the company's plastics division. Starnes said that division was moved to India due to lower costs of production.
The demands followed rumours the entire plant was being closed, despite Starnes' assertion the company doesn't plan to fire the others.
Starnes on Tuesday (June 25) described his experience so far.
"The first couple of days were very very tough, nothing physical, more mental type of stuff going on, standing around you, anywhere you walk, 14, 16, 18 people following you, walk towards the gate, gate's completely blocked, all accesses, doors like right here, I can't get around that door. They have little shifts where they cover all the exits and entrance points," the 42-year-old said from a window in his own office.
Chu Lixiang, Head of the Rights and Interests Department of Union in the Huairou District said Starnes' lawyer is expected to arrive for talks.
Chu said Starnes hadn't paid the workers for two months. She said they feared the plant was closing and that he would run away without paying severance.
Starnes said he has been operating out of Beijing for nearly a decade and has not had problems with the authorities.
Presented by Adam Justice