An American businessman who says his employees haven’t let him leave his factory on the outskirts of Beijing over a pay dispute is safe and may be allowed to go soon, the U.S. Embassy said.
Embassy officials met with Charles Starnes today and confirmed he “might be close to reaching an agreement,” Embassy spokesman Nolan Barkhouse said by phone today. Starnes will be able to meet with his attorneys, Barkhouse said.
Starnes works for Coral Gables, Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, a manufacturer of alcohol prep pads and lancing devices. In a phone interview yesterday, he said he hadn’t been allowed to leave the factory since June 21 over a wage dispute that began after the company decided to move some plastics production to India and pay severance to 30 staff.
Other employees who were to remain at the factory producing alcohol prep pads learned about the decision and decided to quit and demanded the severance pay, Starnes said. When the company refused, they wouldn’t to let him remove some equipment. The dispute then drew in other employees who surrounded the factory and blocked him from leaving.
“They said ‘Alright, if you don’t want to pay, we’re going to sit on your equipment, we’re not going to let you load your stuff,’” Starnes said. ‘They completely impeded and stopped us.’’
Starnes didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone today.
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