14 Apr 2003

200 stranded Chinese workers to appear in Palau court after alleged riot

5:27 pm on 14 April 2003

More than 200 Chinese factory workers under house arrest in Palau for rioting and trespass were due in court today (mon) as the Government pushes to try and get them sent home.

The workers have been stranded in Palau since January after their employers, the Taiwanese operators of Orientex Palau, fled the island because of a coming liquidation action.

On Thursay the workers, almost all women, stormed a restaurant which they thought was owned by the person responsible for their plight.

They then barricaded themselves inside the gated property and at one point took hostage an officer who had used mace on them.

Authorities started dragging them out 20 hours later.

Most went peacefully after an initial confrontation, but all were charged with rioting, trespass, obstruction of justice and disturbing the police.

Billy Kuartei, the chief of staff for the President of Palau, says the workers are confused by the protracted legal process aimed at recouping their wages and securing tickets home.

He says the administration is working diligently to solve the labour dispute and ensure the workers are given proper living conditions.