Angry Beijing Workers Seize American Boss

Local officials taking their side, he complains
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 2:03 AM CDT
Chip Starnes, co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies, waves from a window after he was held hostage by workers inside his plant on the outskirts of Beijing.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – "I feel like a trapped animal," an American factory boss besieged by workers at a medical supply plant in Beijing tells the AP. Chip Starnes says he has been held captive for four days by a hundred workers demanding severance packages like those given to colleagues in a phased-out department—even though he says they aren't being laid off. Starnes says the workers have been keeping him awake by shining bright lights and banging on his office windows, and local officials have pressured him to meet their demands.

"I think it's inhumane what is going on right now," says Starnes. "I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen." A police spokesman says, "there was a labor dispute between the workers and the company management and the dispute is being solved"—and he can guarantee Starnes' safety. Starnes refuses to say how much money is at stake. (Read more China stories.)

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