52 Dead Miners
From South China Morning Post, 12 December 2000 and Agence France Presse, 12 December 2000
Forty two miners died, and six were 'missing' after the Tianlong mine, Hejin, Shanxi province, blew up on 3 December.
Some official newspapers claimed a higher death toll, and even accused the owner of trying to downplay the severity of the explosion, which ranks as one of the most powerful in the recent spate of mining disasters.
Two reporters for the Huashang News were paid US$1,000 by the Tianlong mine owner after unidentified thugs tried to prevent them reporting the story.
Officially 5,317 Chinese miners died in the first eleven months of 2000.
In related news, a flash flood hit a mine near Xinyang city, Henan province killing ten miners on 4 December.
Authorities closed the mine in 1999, but the owner simply reopened without obtaining a license. The owner has disappeared since the flood.
Thousands Block Railway
From South China Morning Post, 6 December 2000
8,000 workers have not been paid for two years. They work at the Daqing No 2 Construction Company in north east China.
Frustration at negotiations that led nowhere forced the workers to block a main rail line on 5 December.
Garment Workers Picket Factory
From World Socialist Web Site, 23 December 2000
Hundreds of workers from the state-owned Nanjing Down Products garment factory have picketed outside the plant since they were laid off and the plant closed down in October.
The workers plastered the factory walls with posters denouncing the closure and demanding compensation.
The laid off workers are paid a remittance which will soon end. One of the workers outside said, "I've been getting Rmb230 (US$28) a month. Work for a lifetime and this is what you get."
The workers claim that the factory, which employed 1,000 workers to produce garments and materials for export, has been sold to another state enterprise for Rmb40 million (US$4.8 million).
It is common practice throughout China for local authorities and management of state-owned industries to collude with private investors to sell off enterprises cheaply and make personal gains from the sale.
Jailed and Drugged
From Terry Cook, World Socialist Web Site, 30 December 2000
To stamp out a protracted protest by workers, public security officials at the Fuming County Silk Factory in Jiangsu province arrested a labour leader, Cao Maobing, on 15 December and committed him to a psychiatric hospital.
Officials claimed that Cao, a 47-year-old electrician, had been diagnosed in 1998 with a psychiatric disorder but they have not produced evidence of mental illness.
Cao's detention came only a day after he spoke on radio Voice of America about a dispute over unpaid entitlements and the right to form a trade union.
Cao accused management and local officials of corruption, thus contributing to the factory's financial difficulties. He said that in the mid-1990s management asked each employee to invest US$250 in the company to prop it up. 3,000 workers who complied never saw any return on the investment; the county owned factory is still in financial straits.
Authorities at the mental institution in Yancheng City, where he was held, claim to have complied with the family's demand to stop drugging Cao.
On 31 November, after the official union refused a request for an alternative union at the factory, the silk workers picketed the local headquarters chanting, "We demand the right to elect our own leaders".