22 Apr 2003

Stranded Chinese workers in Palau fly back to Beijing

1:15 pm on 22 April 2003

220 stranded Chinese garment factory workers boarded chartered planes for Shanghai yesterday as Palau authorities in turn agreed to drop rioting charges against them.

This comes after negotiations between the Palau government and representatives from Beijing.

Palau officials agreed to drop criminal charges against the workers on the condition that they leave the country and to pursue recouping their lost wages in court.

Beijing said it would pay for the workers airfares to China.

The workers had been stranded on Palau since January after their Taiwanese managers fled the island in the face of a coming liquidation proceeding.

The workers were left without their contract guaranteed tickets home and months of unpaid wages, all totalling 600 thousand US dollars.

Earlier this month, the Chinese workers barricaded themselves inside a restaurant for 20 hours during which they had taken a police officer hostage.

The workers believed the restaurant owner was responsible for their plight.

They were placed under house arrest for 10 days in the factory where they previously worked.