1,000 laid off workers protest in mainland


BEIJING, AFP

More than 1,000 laid off workers Tuesday protested their factory’s bankruptcy in front of government offices in the northeastern city of Liaoyang, Liaoning province, a Hong Kong-based rights group and officials said.

Workers of the bankrupt state-owned Liaoyang Metallurgical Factory shouted slogans and carried banners, while a delegation met with the mayor and handed over grievances concerning the company’s bankruptcy, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Earlier the protesters had marched in front of the city court, urging the court and the government to prioritize the welfare of the laid off workers during bankruptcy procedures.

The protests broke up after the meeting with the mayor, the center said.

An official at the Liaoyang city government confirmed to AFP that the protest took place, but said there was far fewer than 1,000 present.

“These people have been coming here several times a month,” the official, who identified himself as He, said.

Workers were upset that more than 6,000 tons of raw materials were removed from the factory last week and feared that the materials would be sold and used to pay off the company debts and not for worker compensation or unemployment benefits, the center said.

The workers blamed company debts of one billion yuan (US$120 million) on mismanagement and corruption.

The factory once provided work and pensions to some 8,000 workers and retirees, the center said, but salaries and retirement pay have not been paid since bankruptcy procedures began a year ago.