Businessman ends 6-day captivity at China factory after settlement with workers

June 29, 2013

Beijing, China (4E) – Chinese workers ended Thursday their barricade of a factory outside Beijing allowing their trapped American employer to leave after nearly a week of being held captive over a pay dispute.

Charles Starnes, 42, of Coral Springs, Florida agreed to pay a “six-figure” amount to 97 workers demanding severance pay, the labor union and general manager of the Specialty Medical Supplies revealed in a press conference held at the plant on Thursday.

Starnes did not attend the press briefing to rest in a hotel, according to a spokesman of the Huairou district branch of China’s government-run labor union.

Before the press briefing, Starnes had wired the payment that government officials will distribute to workers. The $887 settlement per worker includes the June wage.

The company will hire new workers for the 10-year-old plant and Starnes said he will revise the employment contract to be clear on pay and severance rules.

The bizarre barricade and standoff at the plant started Friday when workers who have been transferred to another division demanded severance pay similar to that given to 30 workers who refused the transfer and ere laid off instead. When Starnes refused, they barricaded all plant exits preventing him from leaving.

On Tuesday, Starnes revealed to the press that he is being held hostage and workers are making noise that prevented him from sleeping. The barricade also deprived him of food.


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