Tonghua Steel Protest in Jilin

13:30 Jul 24 2009 tonghua iron and steel works jilin china

[Note: since these reports, the restructuring plan was put on hold]

From NY Times:

China’s state-run press confirmed Monday that a riot broke out at a steel mill in north China Friday evening, leaving the executive of another steel mill dead.

The report, in the English-language China Daily, provided few details on the mayhem, but a report on Saturday by a Hong Kong-based group, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, which broke the story on the riot, said that at least 30,000 workers were involved and that about 100 people were wounded.

The riot, at the Tonghua Iron and Steel Works in Jilin Province in northern China, broke out after a visiting steel executive from a related company threatened mass layoffs at the Tonghua steel mills as part of a major restructuring of the state-owned company, China Daily said.

The riot followed a pattern of massive demonstrations that have taken place in various parts of the country over the past few years, many involving citizens outraged over government corruption or threatened with layoffs or orders to relocate.

The China Daily report said Chen Guojun, the steel executive who was beaten to death, had threatened 3,000 Tonghua steelworkers with layoffs, which he had said could take place within three days. He also had signaled that larger jobs cuts were likely at the struggling steel mill.

The report said the rioters blocked the police, ambulances and government officials from reaching Mr. Chen before he died.

Mr. Chen was general manager at Jianlong Steel, a large, privately owned company based in Beijing. Jianlong had acquired a large stake in Tonghua, a state-owned company with as many as 50,000 employees, and Jianlong was working to restructure it.

The China Daily report quoted a police officer identified only as Wang as saying, “Chen disillusioned workers and provoked them by saying most of them would be laid off in three days.”

The officer also said that Mr. Chen’s warning that 30,000 jobs would eventually be cut to 5,000 “infuriated the crowd.”

China’s steel industry, the world’s largest, is just beginning to recover from a sharp downturn that took place in the second half of last year, forcing many smaller mills to halt production.

The government has been trying to restructure and consolidate the steel industry, which is seen as inefficient and plagued by corruption.
Credibility: UP DOWN 0

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