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May 18, 2011

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Poisoned workers in cash fight

WORKERS poisoned at a local factory almost five months ago say they are no closer to receiving compensation, due to a lack of evidence and non-cooperation from their employer.

Most of the 17 affected workers have returned to work, but are suffering from eyesight problems. The workers said they have not received any compensation from their employer, Shanghai Yueyuechao Steel Pipe Co, in Baoshan District.

This is even though the employer admitted responsibility and said it would pay workers' medical bills.

However, Shanghai Yueyuechao claims it has offered compensation options.

Yang Zhengde, 55, who is receiving hospital treatment for problems with his balance, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that his request for work injury evaluation was denied by local authorities. He believes his balance problems were caused by the poisoning.

The accident happened on December 27, 2010 when Yang and other workers opened a container of paint thinner. They felt sick after contact with the material and were diagnosed with paint thinner poisoning.

Yang said he has spent more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,537) on treatment since January. When he applied for work injury evaluation, he was told that he should apply for occupational disease evaluation first.

But Shanghai Yueyuechao was unable to provide the documents required for the evaluation, claims Yang.

Yang and his wife, who were previously farmers on Chongming Island, now live on a low income as the company only pays him the city's minimum wage of 1,280 yuan every month for not going for work.

Sun Yongxi, general manager of the Shanghai Yueyuechao, said yesterday that the company has provided workers with three options.

Each victim can take compensation of between 3,000 to 5,000 yuan, apply for the work injury evaluation and compensation or go to court.

Eight people have chosen the compensation, while three or four victims have asked for work injury evaluation, according to Sun.

Yang claims he has not been informed of these options.

However, claimants may now have difficulties obtaining the work injury evaluation as this should be applied for within 60 days of an accident, an official with Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau said.


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