- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2013

A U.S. executive said on Monday that workers at his factory in Beijing have held him hostage for the past four days, demanding better severance pay.

Chip Starnes, 42, is a co-owner of the Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, which has a plant in Beijing. He visited the facility over the weekend and was pressured into signing an agreement that met the demands of workers, The Associated Press reported.

His employees were under the impression their wire transfers would arrive by Tuesday — but as a precaution, about 80 of them blocked all the facility’s exits, Mr. Starnes said, AP reported.

They also shined bright lights into his office and banged on the windows and door to keep him from sleeping, AP reported.

“I feel like a trapped animal,” he said, in an interview with AP from his office window, which had bars across it. “I think it’s inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs, and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen.”

Workers inside the plant declined to comment to AP. But local police were on the scene, AP reported.

“As far as I know, there was a labor dispute between the workers and the company management, and the dispute is being solved,” said a spokesman for the police, in AP. “I am not sure about the details of the solution, but I can guarantee the personal safety of the manager.

U.S. Embassy officials were also on the scene, but they declined comment, AP reported.