Thousands of striking workers clashed with over 300 riot policemen at a manufacturing company in Jiangsu Province on Jan. 15. Workers were striking over hazardous working conditions and news that their annual bonuses would not be paid.
Lianjian Technology Co. Ltd. in the city of Suzhou manufactures liquid crystal displays for cell phones. Around 7:00 a.m. on Jan. 15, 800 of the company’s 13,000 workers protested at the gate, holding banners that read “Evil Factory!” and “Return My Annual Bonus.”
Company leaders came out, threatening workers that no bonuses would be paid if they continued to protest. The workers responded with increased anger, and more people joined the protest.
Company leaders then called for riot police to suppress the uprising. Mr. Liu (alias) a company staff member, told The Epoch Times reporter: “Hundreds of policemen with batons and shields blocked the roads. They dispersed the crowd and beat people without even asking who they were.”
He characterized the police actions as “vicious,” and said that, at one point, he saw seven or eight of them beating one person. He was also aware of seven or eight workers who were injured.
“One woman was hit with a baton and lost consciousness, but they still dragged her away. We were so angry at seeing that, we threw stones at the police,” Liu said.
Injured riot police were quickly dispatched to a hospital. Workers, several of whom were severely injured, were left unattended and eventually taken to hospitals by their fellow workers.
The crowd dispersed around noon, and the company closed for the afternoon. Workers are debating whether to resume work or not. They have asked company authorities to release workers who were arrested.
Hazardous Working Conditions and Many Deaths
Mr. Song, who resigned after working two months at the company, said several factors led to this incident, including the fact that the company had not paid workers’ annual bonuses the past two years. Moreover, employees are expected to work 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week using toxic materials without proper protection or proper ventilation. Song said he resigned when he developed throat problems from the toxins.
In 2009, five workers reportedly died from exposure to N-hexane, a poison which is used in the manufacturing process. The media reported on the deaths, and the company switched to a mixture of alcohol and acetone, but this also causes nerve damage after prolonged exposure.
About 20 days ago, an 18-year-old worker developed nerve pain in the leg, then became paralyzed and died shortly after. Workers have frequently passed out, some have even died in the restrooms, and more than a dozen have been hospitalized recently, according to the workers who requested anonymity.
They told The Epoch Times reporter that when safety inspections occur, the poisonous materials are hidden, the name of the department is changed, and workers are sent to other buildings to assure they won’t be questioned.
Many workers said they want to leave the company, but the company will not approve their resignation requests. They said one girl recently jumped out of the dorm building to her death when her request to resign was denied.
The reporter called the company to ask about the strike and was told his questions would have to be handled by the Suzhou Industrial Park Management Committee.
A news release from the Management Committee blamed the incident on company mismanagement, referring to tensions between the leaders and workers. They pledged to improve the management system and pay bonuses in the near future.
Read the original Chinese article