As many as 10,000 employees of the Shulan Mine Industry Bureau, including office workers, miners and pensioners blocked a mainline railway in the northeastern province of Jilin on the morning of July 9th, 2001. The families of workers also took part in the protest action, which took place during a strike to demand payment of up to 30 months wage arrears. One miner said that some office workers employed by the mine bureau had not been paid for 30 months and many miners had gone without wages for 17 months. A Shulan Mine Industry official said that the state-run company was losing money and could not pay its employees. She denied charges of corruption in the company.
By 4pm in the afternoon some reports stated that the number of workers taking part in the protest had dwindled to 4,000. However, local railway officials were telling Hong Kong newspapers that the line was still blocked and at least one express train and several goods trains had been delayed.
The number of protests by Chinese miners over various workplace issues including health and safety, wage arrears, pensions and redundancy compensation has risen dramatically over the last three years in China. The coal mining industry is currently going through a large-scale rationalisation process that includes the closure of many small mines, foreign investment and privatisation.
(HK: SCMP, Mingpao, 10/07/01)