The young worker, surnamed Wang, had been employed for two months at a small factory in the northeastern city of Jilin. He had been promised a salary of 500 yuan a month but had only been paid 300 yuan for two months' work. He made repeated demands for his due wages but was always rebuffed by the boss.
Infuriated, Wang bought a dagger from a local store, and sought to confront the boss again after work. After he finished his shift at around 11.pm on 20 December, Wang waited for his boss outside the factory gate for about half an hour. When the boss again refused to pay Wang’s wages, Wang reportedly stabbed him repeatedly, leaving him lifeless on the ground.
Wang waited at the scene for the police, and later told a reporter of his regrets. “This is no way to get the money back.” He then broke down in tears when talking about his family.
Cases of workers attacking their employers are not uncommon in China. However, in nearly all these cases, the workers had been severely provoked, often because of non-payment of wages or other flagrant violations of their rights.
Last December, Liu Hanhuang, a 26 year-old migrant worker was sentenced to death (suspended for two years) for murdering two managers, and severely injuring a third, at a Dongguan factory in June. Liu had been involved in a long running dispute over work-related injury compensation.
Mainland media and microblogs have reported several cases of wage arrears over the last few weeks; including one case of a migrant worker in Urumqi who was owed more than 8,000 yuan in back pay.
And as the Chinese New Year approaches, more and more wage disputes are likely to come to a head as workers seek payment before the annual holiday.