independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Chinese factory workers release American boss held captive

Chip Starnes had been held in captivity since Friday (AP)
Chip Starnes had been held in captivity since Friday (AP)

CHINESE factory workers today released their U.S. boss whom they had held captive for a week over a compensation dispute, a company official said.

Chip Starnes, president of Specialty Medical Supplies, was allowed to leave the factory in northern Beijing and was resting in a hotel.

 

"As of now my boss Chip feels exhausted after two harsh days and has gone back to a hotel, okay?" Specialty Medical General Manager Xing Shuang told Reuters Television. "This is all I have to say."

 

The workers had demanded severance packages identical to those offered to 30 employees who were recently laid off, even though the firm planned no further layoffs, Starnes said earlier.

 

It was not immediately clear how the dispute was resolved.

 

Starnes spent the week inside the plant, which produces alcohol pads and plastic blood lancets for diabetics, behind barred windows. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

 

The stand-off highlighted one of the lesser-known risks of doing business in China - that trust between workers and management, and faith in the legal system, is often low.

 

Starnes, whose company is based in Florida, flew to China on June 18 and his detention started on Friday.

 

The workers' demands followed rumours that the entire plant was being closed after the company's plastic injection moulding division began a move to India to lower production costs.

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