Governor apologizes over labor scandal

Updated: 2007-06-22 17:00

Yu Youjun, governor of north China's Shanxi Province, on Friday apologized over the forced labor scandal and promised further crackdown on the illegal practices.

A parent looks for a his lost child at a brick kiln at Liuwu Village in Yuncheng, in China's Shanxi Province June 15, 2007. [AP]


"I feel compunction and heart-stricken over the scandal. On behalf of the provincial government, I apologize to the victims and their families, as well as all the people in Shanxi," said Yu.

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Yu said:"As Shanxi governor, I'll take the blame on the scandal that infringed the rights of farmer workers and children", which "caused bad influence in and out of China".

Yu's apology came two days after he made a formal admission of error at a conference of the State Council, China's cabinet, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The Shanxi provincial government was ordered at the cabinet conference to step up investigations into the scandal and compensate the victims.

In another development, a total of 359 people, including 12 children, have been rescued from illegal brick kilns in north China's Shanxi Province, the joint investigation group announced on Friday afternoon.

Police are checking up the ages of nine other people to make sure whether they are child labors, said Sun Baoshu, vice minister of labor and social security and concurrently head of the investigation group jointly dispatched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Security and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to probe into the forced labor scandal.

Employment of child labor aged below 16 is forbidden in China.

Among the 359 rescued workers, 174, including three children, were lured to the kilns and 185 were forced labors.

Police have also found that 65 of the forced workers rescued are mentally retarded, 15 of whom are to be identified and local government is trying to contact with their families.

One mentally retarded worker, Liu Bao from northwest China's Gansu Province, was beaten to death in a brick kiln in Caosheng village of Hongtong County in November 2006. According to the other 31 workers rescued from the kiln, they were confined there and forced to work for more than 15 hours a day without salary.

Six suspects involved in the case, including the kiln boss Wang Bingbing and foreman Heng Tinghan, had been arrested, and three others, including Yao Haichao, a foreman who has allegedly enticed children to work in kilns, are still at large. Police are hunting for them

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