Organiser blames 'instigators' for spreading rumours about higher admission fee Job seekers protested at a Shenzhen recruitment fair after the entrance fee was allegedly raised several times, a claim denied by the event organiser. Hundreds of job seekers - though the mainland-backed Ta Kung Pao put the number at more than 1,000 - rallied outside the China Hi Tech Fair Exhibition Centre on Saturday afternoon, blocking part of a main road. The paper said angry job seekers sang the national anthem and called for a refund, obstructing traffic for about 40 minutes. Protesters said the ticket price rose from the original 5 yuan to 10 yuan, 20 yuan and up to 50 yuan. They said some companies were not serious about hiring, urging them to submit their resumes without asking a question. But an employee of organiser China Shenzhen Human Resource Centre, a recruitment agency owned by the municipal government, said the ticket price for the quarterly event had been fixed at 20 yuan since 1998. 'Since the fair started there has always been an entry fee, and there has never been any incident like this. The ticket price has always stayed the same. During all inquiry calls we told people we charged a 20 yuan entrance fee,' the worker said. He said it was suspected that scalpers caused the confusion by reselling entry tickets and blamed several instigators for spreading rumours about price increases. 'During the past few months, there has been a huge crackdown on illegal recruitment agencies. We suspect there were some people stirring up trouble,' he said. 'We sent staff to talk to the crowd and found some instigators telling people that entry was initially free and the organisers had raised the price. Some even led others to seek a refund.' He said people started to gather about 11am, peak time for the fair. 'Some were instigators [of the trouble]. Others were job seekers who felt they had been cheated and some were just onlookers,' said the employee, adding there was another free job fair nearby that might also have led to confusion. Police and more than 100 security guards formed a human wall to stop the protestors spreading over to the main road. Officials from the municipal government, the Shenzhen Labour and Social Security Bureau and the organising firm arrived later to discuss how to deal with the standoff, he said, adding that public announcements on the true ticket price were made. About 400 enterprises were represented at the one-day job fair, two-thirds of them foreign-owned. Ticket sales were temporarily halted during the protest, but people who had bought tickets were still let in, the employee said. Shenzhen newspapers reported huge turnouts at three job fairs in the city on Saturday but made no mention of the protest. A labour and social security official said the incident would be investigated as it was rare for people with university and senior education qualifications to protest, the Ta Kung Pao reported. The publicity offices of the police and the city government were not available yesterday for comment. In October last year, about 3,000 workers protested outside an electronics factory in Shenzhen against low pay and harsh working conditions, also disrupting traffic along part of a main road.