Poisoned refinery workers seek compensation

By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-03 07:25

XI'AN: Refinery workers in Fengxian county, Shaanxi province, are calling on the local government to help them secure compensation payments from their former employer, after the last 60 were recently released from hospital after more than a month of treatment for lead poisoning, the county's information office told China Daily yesterday.

At least 130 people were poisoned at the lead refinery in February.

The plant was subsequently closed down for failing to meet State safety standards, the office's spokesman Wang Jian said.

The workers are asking the government to help them get compensation, because the factory dismissed them.

Wang Chuanzhong, a county official in charge of the case, said the local government has urged the factory to pay for the workers' medical treatments and pay compensation to cover their living expenses.

The 60 most recently released workers have not yet fully recovered and still need regular doses of medicine, he said.

The county's labor bureau said it will help arrange compensation for the workers according to their health after a physical examination.

Zhang Hansen, 40, said he came to the factory in 1998 and fell ill after working there for several months.

"I had a medical examination in February, which found the lead level in my blood was 1,124 micrograms per liter, while the normal standard should be less than 400 micrograms per liter," he said.

Lei Wenchuan, an attorney with the Shaanxi Xinjilu Lawyers' office, said the factory had violated the Labor Law and relevant regulations, and had no right to force the workers to terminate labor relations.

A manager at the factory surnamed Zhang, who refused to give his full name, said the refinery received an official government order to close down last Novemeber, so it had to dismiss the workers.

"After receiving the government order, we had to give dismissal notices to the workers, along with a compensation plan," he said.

Individual compensation payments will depend on the number of years each of the workers has been employed, he said.

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