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U.S. business owner held hostage by angry employees at his factory in China

By Mason White 11:26 AM June 27, 2013
Chip Starnes 

By: Moses Gold
(Scroll down for video) Chinese workers are holding a U.S. business owner hostage over rumors that he will close the factory.

The Florida business owner has already been imprisoned for 6 days by employees of his own factory in Beijing, China.

Chip Starnes, who is the owner of the Florida-based Speciality Medical Supplies Company, is being held captive by his employees. They don’t want to lose their job. It all started with a misunderstanding that has spiraled out of control.

Fueled by rumors that the entire plant would close down, about 100 workers kidnaped Starnes and put him into a caged room. They are demanding a severance package in order to secure his release. However, Starnes, 42, said he had “no intention” of closing the factory down.

“The workers were never told that they would lose their jobs. The rumor ran rampant, and spiraled out of control quickly after another section of the factory was relocated to India,” Starnes said. The rumors were sparked by the news that 30 workers were dismissed from the plastics division of the company, which then moved to Mumbai, India, to reduce production costs.

The U.S. executive gave a television interview from behind the bars of his window. He has not been hurt in any way during his time in captivity, but said he was bullied by the people and he is very unhappy that the local government has not stepped in to free him.

Local authorities have been standing outside the factory, which has been operating for almost a decade. They allegedly tried to coerce Starnes into signing an agreement to meet the worker’s demands of a respectable severance package even after he made it clear that the remaining 100 workers weren’t being laid off. Local authorities did not put an end to his captivity.

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy also stood outside the locked gate in front of the factory much of the day, and were eventually allowed in to see the U.S. citizen. U.S. Embassy spokesperson Nolan Barkhouse said that the two sides were on the verge of an agreement and that Starnes would have access to his attorneys.

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