Chinese Workers Hold U.S. Executive Hostage Over Pay Dispute

Created: 2013-06-26 17:37 EST

Category: World > Asia Pacific
A co-owner of a U.S.-based medical supplies company has been held hostage by workers at the Beijing plant after a pay dispute.
Chip Starnes, co-owner of Coral Springs, Florida-based Speciality Medical Supplies says he has been held captive since last Friday (June 21) night.
Dozens of workers are demanding severance packages identical to those offered 30 workers being laid-off from the company's plastics division. 
42-year-old Starnes on Tuesday (June 25) described his experience so far, from a window in his own office.
[Chip Starnes, Co-Owner of Coral Springs]:
"The first couple of days were very, very tough, nothing physical, more mental type of stuff going on, standing around you, anywhere you walk, 14, 16, 18 people following you, walk towards the gate, gate's completely blocked, all accesses, doors like right here, I can't get around that door. They have little shifts where they cover all the exits and entrance points." 
Starnes says the dispute is the result of a miscommunication regarding the current payroll and he's unhappy about the local authorities’ passiveness in handling the dispute.
Huairou District’s head of the Rights and Interests Department of Union, Chu Lixiang, says the workers fear the plant is closing and Starnes will run away without paying severance.