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Specialty Medical Supply Founder Held Hostage in Chinese Factory By His Own Employees Over Compensation Disputes

Posted Jun 26 2013 9:16pm

The company, Specialty Medical is located in Florida and was in the process of shifting some of the manufacturing from China to India. image The employees at the China factory claim they have not been paid, blocked the doors and have locked him in until they can negotiate.  This happened last Friday and he’s been barricaded since then.  The Chinese government is pretty much hands off and it’s not unusual in the country for employees to take this into their own hands.  Gee could this catch on over here (grin)?

Lancets and insulin syringes are manufactured at the plant.  30 employees from the injection molding division were laid off at the plant and given severance packages and the remainder of the employees want the same when their jobs go.  Chip Starnes is the founder and president of the company.  He can move throughout the factory and you can see the folks filming all of this with cameras in the videos so it’s very peaceful and no violence at all.  It’s not unusual for companies to flee China and not pay employees so this could be left over fears too from some past employee experiences.  The plant in China outside of Beijing has been in operation for around 10 years.  Some workers have been making a lot of noise to deprive him of sleep but he’s been fed and food is not a problem. 

Officers so far with the government are siding with the workers.  There was little the US embassy could do as well.  You do kind of wonder why a portion of the business was being moved to India, perhaps to save money?  If we see more activities as such the US might not look so bad as far as reinvesting in the US labor market.  BD 

BEIJING — An American business executive being held hostage by employees at his medical supply plant on the outskirts of the capital spent a fifth day on Tuesday in a surreal standoff that has highlighted the dearth of legal protections in China for foreign investors and workers.

The dispute, which has drawn a throng of police officers, Chinese reporters and American diplomats to the factory, began when the company, which is based in Coral Springs, Fla., closed its injection molding division and gave roughly 30 employees what Mr. Starnes described in a telephone interview on Tuesday night as a generous severance package.

The division, which manufactured medical goods like lancets and insulin syringes, is being moved to India. But rumors soon spread that Mr. Starnes was planning to close the entire plant and flee without paying the rest of the workers, which happens often in China.

Although he explained that the remaining workers were not being laid off, about 100 employees barricaded the exits on Friday and stopped him from leaving until he agreed to give them compensation identical to that given to the laid-off employees, a sum he contends would bankrupt the company.

In February, a factory owner in south China’s Guangxi Autonomous Region was kidnapped from a hotel by two contractors who claimed that he owed them $618,000. A month earlier, a migrant worker in Shandong Province stabbed the relatives of a construction contractor, killing the man’s 5-year-old nephew, over what news reports said was a $245 debt. In December, 14 women died in a fire at a bra factory in Guangzhou, which the police determined had been set by a worker upset over $490 in unpaid wages.

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