Women Workers Sue Boss

Friday the Longgang District Court of Shenzhen began the hearing on the lawsuit against a South Korean-owned wig factory by a group of female employees who claimed they were illegally searched last month.

All of the persons concerned, including the 56 offended workers, major members of the managerial staff, 19 witnesses and 100 observers, attended the session.

Friday's hearing passed off the first two parts of statement and testimony declaration. The second hearing is scheduled for Saturday and hopefully will settle the lawsuit, sources with the court said.

Although all of the factory's managerial staff expressed their apologies to the workers for any harm at the court, a sharp discrepancy between the stories of the two sides still remains.

Lee Hong-kwang, a Korean executive manager of Bao Yang Industrial Corp, as well as other defendants from the company's managerial staff, insisted that the body searches took just 10 to 15 minutes and added that only 52 workers had been "touched.''

According to Lee, the company received an anonymous letter that alleged that some employees had stolen wig materials and sold them. Consequently, the workers were searched.

He also claimed the factory appropriately conducted the searches by keeping the workers' aprons around their waists. Lee added that none was asked to remove their shirt or pants.

However, no stolen hair was found on the workers, the company admitted. But they assert that they found some knives hidden under the work tables, and the weight of all the wig materials was slightly heavier than when they were first received by the workers.

"It is not the case! They all are telling lies!'' Wu Mei, a chief representative of the workers, could not help shouting out during the hearing.

According to them, they were brutally searched by some female supervisors for more than an hour on July 30 after they were suspected of stealing wig materials.

The workers allege that they were forced to take off their clothes and even their underwear.

"We felt awfully humiliated by being touched all over our bodies, especially before several male managers,'' she said. She stressed they would fight for justice.

The workers are each demanding 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) and a related fund of 2,000 yuan (US$240.9) from the factory.

The company, however, said that figure was too high. It is willing to compensate each a worker a maximum of 4,000 yuan (US$481.9).

Zhou Litai, an attorney for the plaintiff, said the facts are clear and if the results do not match their requirements, then they will appeal to a higher court.

(China Daily 08/26/2001)

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