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August 8, 2009

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Jilin steel maker reshuffles management

The largest steel maker in Jilin Province has reshuffled its top managerial team after the state-owned company's general manager was beaten to death last month by more than 1,000 protesting workers who were furious about the plant being privatized.

An Fengcheng, 58, who has been Party Secretary and board chairman of Tonghua Iron and Steel Co since 2003, has stepped down because of his health, the Jilin provincial government said yesterday, without saying if it was related to the protest.

An's former deputy Cui Jie was appointed as the steel mill's new Party chief. Gong Aiping, vice mayor of Tonghua City, was elected in a board meeting as the new board chairman.

On the first day of the planned takeover of the Tonghua steel plant last month, workers surrounded the mill and broke through a door of the dormitory where general manager Chen Guojun was hiding. The workers beat him up and left him to die on the ground, according to a government investigative report. The takeover was subsequently called off.

Chen was designated by Beijing-based Jianlong Heavy Machinery Group to conduct the merger plan which would see the company take a controlling stake in the Tonghua Iron and Steel Group, parent of the steel mill.

Jianlong has been the Tonghua group's second-largest shareholder since 2005, and there has been a history of disputes between the workers and Jianlong. The conflict escalated when Jianlong cut the workers' salaries and threatened to lay off old workers last year.


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