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Redundant workers protect homes with gas and pesticide in Northwest China

Posted by Author on October 4, 2010

SOH News,Oct. 3, 2010 –

Authorities in Gansu Province have seized a paper mill and are moving to seize surrounding lands. In Zhenyuan County, 400 mill workers were driven out of their homes. Two workers were interviewed by SOH, one of them Mr Liu said the remaining residents were arming themselves with pesticide and gasoline to defend themselves against government officials.

The mill occupies 58,000 square metres of land. It was built over 40 years ago and has fixed assets worth tens of millions of Yuan and cash assets worth 13 million Yuan (AUD$2 million). The local authorities became interested in the property and took control of it. The mill was forced into bankruptcy by the authorities. The company name was changed to the ‘Jiahe Beer Packaging Factory of Qingyang’. The accounts and books were then prepared under the name of a separate company. Tens of millions of dollars of assets were then embezzled.
When the authorities gained control of the mill, it was reorganised and workers were forced to relocate. Those who refused to comply were fired and had their pay suspended. For those employees still looking for work, the authorities terminated their contracts. Family members of workers were also forced to sign agreements on their behalf.

A resident of Zhenyuan County, Ms. Zhu told SOH (recording):
“We live on the premises of the mill, but the government forced us out without proper compensation and sold the land to developers. Only 20 of us were given subsidised housing units to rent. They also asked us to buy and pay more than 1300 Yuan ($200 Australian Dollars) per square meter. There are demolition teams out there using force to suppress us. If you do not sign the agreement, your husband will not have a job.”

Mr. Liu, one of the workers at the mill said, since mid-May mill workers have petitioned to various levels of government. They have received no answers. Two female workers became so desperate they attempted to jump off the third floor of a government building. They were restrained. Mr. Liu told SOH (recording):
“They did not give us anything. They sold the land for 200 million Yuan (AUD$30.8 million), and used it for development. We went to the city government to appeal on the housing issue and the back-pay issue. But the government just lied and used red tape, and none of them responded.”

To protect their homes, mill workers now are united and are monitoring their properties, to fend off demolition from the authorities. Mr. Liu continues (recording):
“We are taking turns to be on duty 24 hours. We have pesticide, gasoline and other things to fight. If they come, we will use pesticide 3911 or use gas to burn them. We will fight until the last breath.”

Yu Lian and Gu Qing of SOH Network

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