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. Workers in China strike over rising food costs: officials

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 3, 2007
Police in southern China used batons and dogs to keep thousands of workers from leaving their factory premises after they went on strike over rising food costs, officials and reports said Monday.

Workers at the Aigao Electronics Factory in Guangdong province went on strike on Wednesday last week after the company announced that it would raise food prices, a company official said.

"The problem has been solved, we are not going to raise the price of food," the official, who refused to be named, told AFP by telephone.

"Our Hong Kong owner has promised to lower the price of the food. We will announce this very soon."

The official refused to comment on reports that police and dogs attacked workers trying to leave the factory and forced them to remain on the premises.

China's inflation has remained at a near-decade high over the past three months as the government has scrambled to calm fears over fast growing food and fuel prices.

The consumer price index was up 6.5 percent in October over the same period last year largely led by a rise in food prices, which were up 17.6 percent during the month.

According to the US-based Radio Free Asia, several hundred police converged on the factory in Dongguan city and beat workers with clubs and arrested strike leaders.

"More than a thousand police arrived on the scene with dozens of dogs to repress the (workers)," the report said, citing witnesses.

"Many workers were injured by the dogs and arrested."

City officials and police in Dongguan, a booming industrial city located in Guangdong's textile factory belt, refused to comment on the strike when contacted by AFP.

According to a secretary in the factory offices, several thousand workers are employed at the plant with food and lodging expenses docked from the employees monthly wages.

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