Chinese workers are holding hostage entrepreneur Chip Starnes, the co-founder of a Florida-based medical supply company, in his factory outside of Beijing, according to news reports.
Starnes, 42, has been held captive in the office of his factory by 80 of his 110 employees there since Friday. He has been given a cot and is being fed three meals a day. While there is no sign of violent torture, workers have been making harassing noises and shining bright lights in the business executive’s eyes to keep him from sleeping, news reports say. His company, Specialty Medical Supplies, makes alcohol pads and diabetes equipment in the factory.
According to The Wall Street Journal, it is a sign of rising anxiety over the slower pace of growth in the Chinese economy. As the economy has exploded, some manufacturing has started to migrate to other parts of the world where labor is less costly. The dispute occurred after Starnes said he planned to move some of his manufacturing operations to India. When some employees were asked to move and declined, the company gave them severance packages. Workers who had already moved then demanded severance packages, Starnes says. Workers inside the factory say they are owed two months of back pay and were afraid of losing their jobs, according to news reports.