Workers at a Foshan artificial diamond factory suffering from a potentially lethal lung disease have pledged to pursue compensation claims against their employer. The Er You Ornament company, which has more than 1,000 employees, has been ordered by the local authorities to suspend production since Monday. Workers say they began suffering breathing difficulties at work in April last year due to vast quantities of industrial dust. Some were later diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, a fatal lung disease caused by inhalation of irritants. 'It can deprive you of your ability to work and even kill a person in a short time,' said Vicky Chan, a researcher from the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee. Qiu Wanxin , one of the sick workers, said the company had breached the law by delaying the transfer of his health records to the provincial occupational health authorities. 'I am asking for proper compensation, but the employer is trying to lower that sum,' said the 31-year-old who has been diagnosed with an early stage of pneumoconiosis. Mr Qiu said 17 factory workers were in hospital and more than 50 were thought to have the disease.