Workers at a state factory at Shenyang, north of Beijing, that was sold to its manager for one yuan (about 93 HK cents) took to the streets to protest against the sale and held repeated sit-ins, calling the man a worm and a cheat. The dispute illustrates the difficulty of implementing the government's plan to sell off small and medium-size state factories. It also explains why it ordered a slowdown in simple sales and urged more consideration be given to wishes of the workers. Last November, Cheng Wen bought Shenyang Micro-Electrical Factory, which had net debts of 37 million yuan, for one yuan from the district government a day after the plant had been transferred to it by the city government, Fortnightly Talks magazine reported. The workers heard of the sale from television news that evening. Most were against it, preferring to buy it out themselves and turn it into a shareholding firm. They wrote petitions to government departments, saying Mr Cheng had obtained the plant without going through the proper procedures, and then took their protests to the streets, blocking traffic. The workers also held sit-ins at the city government seat. In the course of this, one elderly worker, 57, had a rush of blood to the head and died. The plant, with 1,000 workers, was a leader in its field in the 1970s but fell into financial troubles in the 1990s because of poor management. Mr Cheng worked as a technician and manager at the factory before being appointed its chief in January last year. Workers opposing the sale, led by the plant's party secretary, Yen Fengcheng, accuse Mr Cheng of stealing equipment and placing orders with a factory owned by his son. An official at the plant said the sale dispute had lasted six months and production resumed only in early June, with 200 workers on the job and the rest laid off, because of bad market conditions. 'With such a large workforce, it is understandable to have differences of opinion. Some workers do not accept the sale, ' the official said. 'Things are operating normally. Mr Yen and Mr Cheng do not see eye-to-eye. Mr Yen remains party chief but does not come to the factory often.'