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Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 10 News List

ICBC's ex-workers protest in Beijing

COMPENSATION More than 200 laid-off staff have been rallying in Beijing, saying that they can't survive on the redundancy settlement offered by the bank

AFP , BEIJING

More than 200 laid-off employees from China's largest lender staged a sit-in protest in central Beijing yesterday, demanding their jobs back and complaining at inadequate redundancy compensation.

"We want our jobs back ... we have to survive, they can't leave us to die like this," said one of the protesters who was laid off by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國工商銀行) four years ago.

The protester, surnamed Zou, said he worked for the bank for 14 years but is only receiving 2,500 yuan (US$313) per year for a redundancy settlement, without a pension or medical coverage.

Protesters said they have rallied for the third day outside the All China Federation of Trade Unions in downtown Beijing amid a heavy police presence.

Around 20 police vans and cars were parked along the street just outside the official trade union yesterday morning, with up to 100 policemen standing by. Some of them prevented curious bystanders from talking with the protesters.

Another former employee, surnamed Wang, who used to be a bank branch manager in Jiangsu Province said they had been lobbying government departments and the trade union over the past four years, but with few results.

"The problem has not been solved," he said.

Wang said hundreds of other redundant employees who arrived in Beijing by the train from other parts of the country had been prevented by police from leaving the stations.

One demonstrator beaten by police earlier this week suffered from internal bleeding and was hospitalized, protesters claimed.

"Our country is very corrupt, they don't follow the law," one said.

"Otherwise, why would there be such a large amount of state asset loss? They don't go to the root of the problem and then we're the ones who suffer," he said.

There is no independent trade union in China and all local trade unions have to be affiliated to the All China Federation of Trade Unions, which is controlled by the ruling party.

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