Two labor officials held in kiln crime

Updated: 2007-06-22 09:17

Two labor watchdog officers in north China's Shanxi Province have been detained by police in connection with the country's growing slave-worker scandal.

Hou Junyuan, head of an inspection team in Yongji City's Labor and Social Security Bureau, was accused of dereliction of duty and detained yesterday afternoon.

Another officer from the team, Shang Guangze, was arrested on charges of abuse of power and fired from his job.

The two had transferred an underage laborer, who was from central China's Henan Province and was being sent back home, to another kiln for new employment, authorities said.

Police have arrested 168 people and are seeking more than 20 other suspects involved in the forced-labor scandal.

By Sunday night, 45,000 officers had raided more than 8,000 kilns and small coal mines in Shanxi and Henan provinces and freed 591 workers, including 51 children.

Those charged with crimes are suspected not only of illegal employment practices but also of abduction, limiting others' freedom, employing underage workers and even murder.

Meanwhile, the government of Shanxi's Hongtong County, where one of the most notorious kilns was located, has dispatched work teams to 12 provinces to compensate victims who were compelled to work in captivity.

The central government plans to launch a nationwide survey of labor conditions in small kilns and collieries, and those who illegally employ children, force people to work or deliberately injure workers will be severely punished, the State Council warned.

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