Factory layoffs shelved after thousands protest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 12:00am

The restructuring of a PLA-linked chemical plant in Luzhou , Sichuan province , has been shelved after a mass protest last week which saw several protesters arrested.

The factory resumed normal operations on Sunday after local authorities suspended the restructuring plan, an employee said.

Last Wednesday, about 3,000 employees of the Torch Chemical Plant went on strike after learning 1,500 workers would be laid off. Accompanied by relatives, they demonstrated outside the factory, which was once managed by the People's Liberation Army.

Protesters blocked the factory gate, trapping officials inside. They demanded several months' worth of back wages and more compensation for those who would be sacked. An employee said the restructuring plan only set aside 'a couple of hundred yuan' for each year's service.

Hours later, the officials slipped out of the factory.

The demonstrators also blocked the main road leading to the factory. About 1,000 police officers arrived two days later, and several protesters were detained in minor scuffles.

The local government has invested heavily in the factory but without success.