One unpaid migrant worker was beaten to death at a building site in Guangdong Province and hundreds of his workmates who were striking to get delayed salaries were injured by thugs the building owner hired.
The attackers, armed with shovels, steel pipes, axes, and knives, injured many of the strikers and killed Lei Mingzhong, a laborer from Kaixian County in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
The Chongqing Morning Post, reporting on the incident, said all the workers were from Chongqing and were working on a power plant construction project at Heyuan City in Guangdong Province.
Wang Guangtao, China's Minister of Construction, has ordered a thorough investigation of the incident.
Ye Dinghua, team leader of the security guards of Fuyuan Hydropower Development Co, and Zhou Wu, Fuyuan's representative at the building site, have been detained by police.
Nearly 300 workers went on strike on Friday at the site after working for four months without payment, because the owner, a subsidiary of Shenzhen based Fuyuan Energy Group, had delayed paying the contractor millions of yuan.
Having failed to coerce the workers to end the strike, Fuyuan then hired hundreds of thugs to fight them and force them back to work. Ye was reported to have led the thugs when they rushed the workers and beat them.
The workers, most of who were reported to have been empty-handed, suffered injuries in the fierce attack, even after police arrived at the scene. Lei was killed while two of his workmates were forced to jump from a high wall into the Dongjiang River. The thugs even threw rocks into the river after them, the newspaper said.
Fuyuan Hydropower Co, a subsidiary of Fuyuan Group, plans to build a hydroelectric power station on Dongjiang River at Lankou Town, Dongyuan County. With a total investment of 316 million yuan (US$41 million) from Fuyuan Group, the power plant is expected to produce 90 million kilowatt hours a year.
Miao Shouliang, the boss of Fuyuan Group, was listed as the 19th richest real estate tycoon last year by Rupert Hoogewerf, a former Forbes China employee who established his own luxury business listing company — Hurun Report — in Shanghai.
Miao denied delaying the payment of money to the contractor but hung up when reporters asked him to comment on the incident.
China passed a contract labor law to protect the basic rights of workers on Friday.
(Shanghai Daily July 2, 2007)