Hundreds of Former Bank Employees Protest in Beijing

By Li Ling, Epoch Times Staff
January 24, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: January 24, 2008 12:00 am

On January 21, hundreds of former employees from branch offices of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in various provinces, gathered in front of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in Beijing to protest against their unfair layoff.

One protestor from central China's Hubei Province told The Epoch Times that they displayed banners with the words “Give us back our rights! End the corruption! Oppose corrupt officials!” Though public protest is legal under the constitution, the police soon appeared and arrested them.

Among the protestors, the largest group, made up of about 200 people, came from Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. One of them told The Epoch Times that due to interference from police and the current bank's management, hundreds of them were unable to come. One Heilongjiang protestor said, “We have no way out. I have come to Beijing to appeal four times already, not only did my efforts end up in vain, but I was arrested every time. Being a disadvantaged social group, what can we do? We can only appeal to the public.”

When The Epoch Times phoned the headquarters of the Industrial and Commercial Bank in Beijing, a staff member answered, “We have already contacted the appeals office and answered their questions. I am not clear about the details.”

About 20 protestors from Fuxin City, Liaoning Province were held in custody in a hotel in Beijing from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. on January 21 by local authorities.

The Epoch Times managed to make phone contact with these protestors. One of them said, “Since 2 a.m., Fuxin police and staff from the local branch office of the Industrial and Commercial Bank have held us in custody here. We are here to make appeals for our problems because the bank fired us illegally. The Industrial and Commercial Bank violated the law, we are going to appeal to the upper level authorities and protect our interests, but they held us here to stop us from doing so.”

It is said that the laid off employees of the Industrial and Commercial Bank from all over the country have appealed in Beijing many times this past year, requesting a resolution of their layoff compensation issue. The bank committed 8,000 yuan (approximately US$1,066) as layoff compensation per employee initially, but only paid 2,000 (US$253) in the end and the bank also failed to pay the retirement and medical insurance benefits.