About 600 former workers from the Tieshu Textile Factory in Suizhou City, Hubei Province are seeking payment of large sums of back wages owing to them since the factory was declared bankrupt in early 2004. The workers had publicly campaigned for over a year, holding numerous mass public protests in Suizhou City, but when all their efforts proved in vain they finally took the drastic step of blocking the main railway line for several hours. The protest action was forcibly dispersed by the police and six of the workers were arrested and charged with criminal offences.
Having been pursuing the Tieshu textile workers' case as a collective lawsuit for several months prior to the crackdown, CLB stepped in to provide the detained workers with the services of experienced criminal defence lawyers from Beijing. In a series of pre-trial discussions with the local police and procuracy, the defence lawyers did an outstanding job of representing the detained workers, with the result that most of them were quickly released without trial. And among those who eventually did face trial, all but one were freed by the court on the basis that the police had failed to provide sufficient evidence of guilt. (The convicted worker received a one-year sentence.) Moreover, CLB is now assisting one of the Tieshu textile workers concerned to pursue an administrative lawsuit against the police on the grounds of wrongful detention.