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Steel factory workers kill 1 manager in merger plan dispute
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Around 1,000 steel factory workers killed a manager, whose company had been engaging in a merger talk to take control of the steel company, in a protest, the provincial government of Jilin in northeast China confirmed on Monday.

A work group organized by the provincial government to investigate the incident said the manager, named Chen Guojun, was dispatched by the Beijing-based Jianlong Heavy Machinery Group to conduct the merger plan to take a controlling share in the Tonghua Iron and Steel Group.

Jianlong has become Tonghua's second largest share-holder since 2005.

According to the investigation, the workers that were involved in the protest were mainly composed of those that may expect job losses after the company's managerial reshuffle, and some retired workers.

The group of protesters began gathered in the company's office building on Thursday morning. The protest turned violent as they rushed into the factory to stop the production line, and injured the manager Chen.

A small number of the protesters found the injured manager who has been hidden and beat him repeatedly, while some others blocked the roads in the factory to prevent the police and ambulances from reaching the manager, according to the government investigation.

Police source said the protesters threw bricks towards intermediator and police.

Chen was rescued and taken to hospital in the evening. He failed emergency treatment at 11:00 p.m.

The work group said Chen's body has been sent to his hometown in Hebei Province.

It also told workers that the merger talk has been terminated.

"The workers were infuriated by an announcement made by the manager Chen that the total number of 30,000 employees in the factory will be reduced to 5,000 after the merger," said a police officer quoted by Monday's China Daily.

The police who only gave her name as Wang said the plan on pay-roll cut disillusioned the workers as many of them expected the factory would work out of a financial plight, because the price of steel continues to rise.

The newspaper's source said the protest led to a halt in production at all of the seven furnaces of the steel factory, which has a yearly throughput of 7 million tons.

The joint venture company experienced heavy losses amid the global financial crisis, leading to a sharp fall in the production and cuts in salaries, causing discontent among workers.

(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2009)

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