Society

Factory Boss Chip Starnes Held Hostage In China By Workers

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An American executive said workers at his medical supply plant in Beijing have been holding him hostage for four days.

Chip Starnes, 42, insists the workers are demanding severance packages similar to those given to 30 of their former coworkers. Starnes is a co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies. According to him, local officials coerced him into signing agreements Saturday to meet the workers' demands even though the remaining 100 workers were not being laid off.

While allegedly holding him hostage, Starnes said the workers have been blocking the plant’s exits and depriving him of sleep by shining bright lights into his office and banging on the windows. He said that the workers should be receiving wire transfers by Tuesday but declined to clarify the amount, Newser reported.

"I feel like a trapped animal," Starnes said from his office. "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."

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A local police spokesman said police were at the scene to maintain order.

"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."

U.S. Embassy representatives were on the scene but declined to comment.

It is not uncommon for managers in China to be held by workers demanding pay or other benefits, although it is somewhat unusual to see it happen to a foreign boss.

Sources/Photo: Newser, CBS News