Hundreds of Chinese factory workers held their managers hostage for a day and a half, protesting two-minute bathroom breaks, fines for being late, and other new work rules. The protest's leaders appeared to be angry women.
Nearly 300 police officers were called to the Shanghai Shinmei Electric Company, based in Shanghai, late Saturday. Reportedly, there were 1,000 workers who held the managers hostage and were showing their solidarity by not working, according to a statement released by the factory's parent company on Monday.
The employers, 10 Japanese nationals and eight Chinese managers, were reportedly uninjured when police found them.
Media reports or the company's statement did not reveal further details about the strike or what sparked the revolt, but sources say it had to do with working conditions.
"The workers demanded the scrapping of the ridiculously strict requirements stipulating that workers only have two minutes to go to the toilet and workers will be fined 50 yuan ($8) if they are late once and fired if they are late twice," said a security guard, surnamed Feng. "The managers were later freed when police intervened and when they agreed to reconsider the rules."
One of the hostages was Hideaki Tamura, president of Shinmei Electric, the Japan Times
reported. Company sources said Tamura was visiting the plant when a group of mostly female employees surrounded the room where the executives were meeting and took them captive.
The plant manufactures electromagnetic coils and other electronic products.
The company statement said police are investigating the situation and questioning staff.
The plant was closed Tuesday, but a source told The Associated Press it would resume business Wednesday.
Chinese factories have long been scrutinized for fostering poor working conditions and low pay. A 2008 New York Times special report
detailed some of the work hazards and abuse these workers face.
"[Labor groups] say some Chinese companies routinely shortchange their employees on wages, withhold health benefits and expose their workers to dangerous machinery and harmful chemicals, like lead, cadmium and mercury," the Times' article read.
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