Boxun News - English
Thousands of retired Chinese protest poverty
(1 - 23)BEIJING, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Thousands of retired workers have protested inChina's central province of Henan against tiny government benefits, theU.S.-based rights group China Labour Watch said on Tuesday.
Up to 2,000 angry workers formerly employed in state firms blocked the mainartery running through the provincial capital of Luoyang on Monday, haltingtraffic for several hours, it said.
Henan police and labour unions told Reuters they had not heard of any suchprotests.
But the rights group said the retired workers chanted slogans accusing thegovernment of raising the salaries of government employees, while not caring``if the retired live or die.''
The protesters received pensions of 400 yuan ($48) and many of theirchildren had lost jobs as state firms were restructured, the rights groupsaid.
``Now these retired workers cannot even get reimbursed for their medicine.Those who fall ill can only sit out their fevers and if they can't, theywait to die,'' it said.
Demonstrations by workers facing job losses as more state firms arereorganised or privatised have become more frequent and analysts say thiscould worsen as reforms are stepped up in the wake of China's entry into theWorld Trade Organisation.
The protests have also taken aim at rampant corruption and abitrarytaxation, often involving thousands of peasants and sometimes turningviolent.
Labour ministry figures recorded more than 120,000 labour disputes in 1999,and human rights groups have monitored numerous protests over mass lay-offs,management corruption and inadequate or delayed welfare payments.
The issue is now a leading concern for the Communist government which haspledged to maintain year-on-year economic growth of at least seven percentuntil 2005 to create enough jobs to maintain social stability. (博讯boxun.com)