14 Apr 2003

Chinese workers stranded in Palau, dragged from restaurant, under house arrest

8:35 am on 14 April 2003

More than 200 Chinese factory workers stranded in the Pacific island of Palau after their company folded are under house arrest after being dragged out of a restaurant where they had barricaded themselves in for 20 hours.

The workers have been stranded on Palau since January after the Taiwanese operators of Orientex Palau fled the island because of a coming liquidation action.

In frustration, the workers had gone to the Crystal Palace restaurant because they believed the owner of the establishment was responsible for their current plight.

The workers' lawyer, Moses Uludong, says Orientex never gave his clients their contract guaranteed tickets home and they are owed more than $US600,000 dollars in unpaid wages.

Mr Uludong says restaurant owner Frank Ho is not the party responsible, but confirmed disturbing scenes of police dragging the workers, mostly women, from the establishment.

The workers, put under house arrest in the factory barracks, face several criminal charges, including disturbing the peace, trespassing, obstruction of justice and rioting.