Angry workers hold Florida executive captive over unpaid salary
The owner of a Florida-based medical supply company has been trapped inside his company’s factory in China by a group of about 80 angry workers, though they deny mistreating him physically.
“We women can’t hold the boss hostage,” one employee, Gao Ping, told CBS News. “We’re negotiating. He didn’t pay us wages.”
But their employer, 42-year-old Chip Starnes, said employees have deprived him of sleep since first taking him captive on June 21 and blocked him from leaving the Specialty Medical Supplies facility in Beijing. He also denied owing his captors two months’ worth of salary and severance packages after laying about 30 employees off.
“They’re kind of holding me in a cage like an animal,” Starnes shouted from behind a window to a reporter.
Starnes, the company’s co-owner, was allowed to speak to CBS from behind a gate at the facility, but declined to take the chance to escape, explaining that it “would probably be the wrong impression to give at this point in time.”
Employees told CBS that they became worried for their own jobs after the layoffs, part of the company’s plastics division being outsourced to India. According to a local union official, the workers are demanding to be paid the salary owed and severance packages similar to the ones their colleagues received before leaving their own jobs.
“I deserve the right to go back to my hotel room,” Starnes said to CBS. “I deserve to come back and we can address these things professionally. This is not how it’s done.”
Watch CBS’ report on Starnes’ confinement, aired Tuesday, below.