American Factory Boss Held Hostage In China By Workers

BEIJING An American executive said Monday he has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing by scores of workers demanding severance packages like those given to 30 co-workers in a phased-out department.

Chip Starnes, 42, a co-owner of Coral Springs, Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, said local officials had visited the 10-year-old plant on the capital’s outskirts and coerced him into signing agreements Saturday to meet the workers’ demands even though he sought to make clear that the remaining 100 workers weren’t being laid off.

The workers were expecting wire transfers by Tuesday, he said, adding that about 80 of them had been blocking every exit around the clock and depriving him of sleep by shining bright lights and banging on windows of his office. He declined to clarify the amount, saying he wanted to keep it confidential.

“I feel like a trapped animal,” Starnes told The Associated Press on Monday from his first-floor office window, while holding onto the window’s bars. “I think it’s inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen.”



“As far as I know, there was a labor dispute between the workers and the company management and the dispute is being solved,” said spokesman Zhao Lu of the Huairou Public Security Bureau. “I am not sure about the details of the solution, but I can guarantee the personal safety of the manager.”


The protest reflects growing uneasiness among workers about China’s slowing economic growth and the sense that growing labor costs make country a less attractive place for some foreign-owned factories. The account about local officials coercing Starnes to meet workers’ demands — if true — reflects how officials typically consider quashing unrest to be a paramount priority.

It is not rare in China for managers to be held by workers demanding back pay or other benefits, often from their Chinese owners, though occasionally also involving foreign bosses. It is unusual for such an incident to take place in Beijing because most such ventures have moved elsewhere in China because of high costs in the capital.


Some of the workers in the other divisions got wind of this, and, coupled with rumors that the whole plant was moving to India, started demanding similar severance packages on Friday.



  8 comments for “American Factory Boss Held Hostage In China By Workers

  1. NancyG
    June 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    This is what happens when you outsource jobs to foreign countries with cheap labor so you can pay them cents on the dollar. This is the price you pay for dodging taxes and diverting jobs and money from the US economy. These companies need to look to themselves as the problem. They know the solution, but since it’ll decrease the fatness of their wallets they want no part in it. Only a true capitalist would whine about the mess he’s made and say its “inhumane”

    • zarah
      June 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      that’s what I’ve saying. What you do will catch up with you sooner or later. Your money can’t always protect you when you abuse or condone the abuse of others.

    • holly homan
      June 25, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Nancy, right on the money with that statement. This is what workers must start doing all over the world including the US. Perhaps Walmart workers can find the house of the CEO and trap him inside.

  2. Ree
    June 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    What? You pay them very little and they expect to be paid fair wages? And you’re upset because the whole reason you’re there in the first place instead of making jobs in the US is because you don’t want to pay anyone fair wages? Wow. Who’da thunk?

  3. zarah
    June 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    you guys should create jobs here at home to build our country back. Enslaving foreign workers and evading taxes just because we have human and workers rights and environmental protection here does not mean it’s okay to abuse others else where. It’s just plain greedy, selfish and UN-AMERICAN!

  4. patrick
    June 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    He deserves it! This is the price you pay for screwing your own countrymen out of work,etc. The consequences of taking advantage of the working poor!

    • June 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      trust me its not taking advantage there living a lot better lives than before this job guaranteed :)

  5. June 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    its sad but if you want a business to survive especially with medical equipment and supplies you have to go over seas to do so any one who is business smart would do so

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