In late July, police in Beijing expelled from the capital around 80 laid-off workers from one of China's largest military-industrial complexes, who were demanding their jobs back.
The workers, sacked by the Inner Mongolia North Heavy Industries Group Corp. Ltd. (NORHEINCO), had been petitioning the central government.
In recent years around 7,000 workers have lost their jobs at the factory. Most of the retrenched workers cannot obtain even the government's "minimum living allowance", leaving them and their families virtually destitute.
Since the first week in May, they have gathered every day outside the factory's main gates, in shifts of about 500 workers at a time, to call for immediate action by the factory's managers to address their demands. They have been met with police brutality.
Last month about 60 workers decided to petition the central government demanding to have their jobs back.
Having begun to apply pressure in Beijing, at the end of July several dozen of the workers' representatives were forcibly taken back to Baotou by a squad of police officers.
Despite the treatment they have received from the company management, and despite the failure of the legal system to uphold their rights, according to the China Labour Bulletin (CLB) the morale of the workers remains high. Mass picketing is continuing daily outside the factory gates.
* For more information see the CLB website: http://www.china-labour.org.hk