"They won't take to the streets for no reasons" -- On the Pension Protesters in Inner Mongolia

According to information obtained by CLB, protesting workers from Changzheng Building Materials Corp. (CBMC) blocked the national expressway going from Baotou to the provincial capital of Huhehaote for one whole day on July 15, 2002. On July 17, another group of workers tried to block the Baotou-Beijing rail route, but was driven back by hundreds of armed police.

Yesterday (July 22), CLB called the Complaints Office of the Baotou City government for updates on the current situation of the protest and the three workers who were arrested on July 15. But the officials refused to give any details.

Further information was, nevertheless, obtained from workers in the neighbourhood.

A worker from the neighbouring sugar factory told CLB that the younger workers took the lead at the start of the protest, and were joined by the senior workers when they were driven away by the police. The worker also told CLB that the sit-in on the expressway on July 15 lasted until 10:30pm.

“Most of the protesting workers are women workers in their 40s”, a guy living in the neighbourhood said.

Another worker from an aluminum factory nearby confirmed the arrest of several organisers in the police scuffle on July 15. “They [the workers] won’t take to the streets for no reasons”, the woman worker said. The brick and tile workers have all along approached the city government for help, but were ignored. She said, “All of a sudden, they [the government] sent the police and armed police against the workers – this has upset many people here in Baotou.”

Changzheng Building Materials Corp used to be a collective enterprise owned by the Baotou city government, but went private after it was declared bankrupt a few years ago. One of the factory workers said that the company wanted to turn the factory site into an industrial park, and that the pension funds, worth US$1 million, was missing (SCMP, July 19, 2002).

China Labour Bulletin
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