Women demand boost to benefits

Stephen E Philion philion at hawaii.edu
Tue Aug 15 00:25:58 PDT 2000

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Women demand boost to benefits

MARK O'NEILL in Beijing


Hundreds of wives and mothers of oil workers have been protesting for

the past two weeks in the city of Karamay, Xinjiang province, calling

on the Government to increase their living allowance and medical


One city official said yesterday the women presented three demands

late last month to the city's Government and the management bureau of

the city's state oil company.

They are seeking an increase in the workers' living allowance from 100

yuan (HK$93) to 200 yuan, an increase in their medical allowance, and

the upgrading of their status from that of "family workers" to

"collective workers", which would mean a pension increase.

On August 1, the Government of Karamay, northwest of the provincial

capital of Urumqi, said it could not meet their demands. The next day,

hundreds of women protested at the oil management bureau, about 100

metres from the Government's offices. By August 10, their numbers had

swollen to almost 1,000.

According to an account published on the Internet, it was the first

spontaneous public demonstration in Karamay, with protesters shouting

slogans such as "down with corruption", "down with bribery" and "we

must survive".

But the city official said the Government worked hard to persuade the

women to stop protesting. Yesterday morning, 200 were still holding a

sit-in outside the Government's offices.


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