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U.S. businessman Chip Starnes walked to freedom Thursday after paying off the workers who held him hostage for six days in the factory he founded close to the Chinese capital. And now he plans to re-hire some of the very people who held him.
Wearing the same blue shirt and jeans he has worn since Friday, Chip Starnes, 42, walked around his factory in Qiaozi, a quiet town in northeast Beijing, on a gloomy Tuesday morning. Tired but still smiling, he greeted reporters standing outside the factory gate.
The machines are all ready to go. But the lights are out at Specialty Medical Supplies, a small American company that has been making alcohol swabs and plastic parts in Qiaozi, a sleepy town at the foothills just north of Beijing, for 10 years.
A short circuit was identified Friday as the primary cause of the fire that killed 121 workers at the Baoyuanfeng poultry plant early this month, but officials later conceded that negligence was ultimately to blame.
China's economic slowdown, and the rising costs of labor in the country's main industrial hubs, are contributing to a transformation in the way workers negotiate with employers, says a Hong Kong-based workers' rights organization
Geoffrey Crothall says the lackadaisical attitude towards workplace safety in China can no longer be tolerated, and officials, managers and the public must all heed workers’ calls for better conditions
It is about time that the trade union did a much better job in representing workers interests in the food processing industry and that government officials started taking their duty of oversight seriously.
The Chinese Dream has been analysed and interpreted in many different ways since President Xi Jinping first floated the idea at this year’s National People’s Congress. But perhaps the biggest difference is between how China’s workers and the official trade union see that dream.
The final death toll at Rana Plaza was 1,127.  It was by far the worst disaster in the centuries-long history of garment industry tragedies. Yet, the response of the international garment industry and the government in Bangladesh thus far has been to promise basic safety standards and workers’ rights that should have been in place years ago.
With a workforce of more than one million, the electronics giant Foxconn has enough workers in its Chinese factories to fill a small country. So it's fitting that the company has vowed to make its manufacturing kingdom a bit more democratic by encouraging union elections.

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