A GANG of more than 30 young men attacked a group of migrant workers, one a woman in her 80s, with knives and iron pipes in Shanghai yesterday morning.
Several of the workers, who had been seeking payment of long-delayed salaries, were injured.
Police arrested most of the alleged attackers and are still hunting for the others and the man said to have hired them.
The attack, which witnesses said was like a scene from a gangster movie, began at around 10am when three vans dropped off the gang in front of the offices of a cashmere clothing company in Minhang District.
Witnesses said the young men – each wearing a red ribbon tied round their arms to distinguish themselves from the “enemies” – jumped from the vans and rushed into the building.
Led by Gao Yuanshu, a team of migrant workers had been occupying a third-floor office in the building since last Wednesday in protest at the owner, Dong Jian, who they said owed them salaries that were four years overdue.
Peng Daihua, one of the victims, said that the old woman, Xu Kezhen, was hiding in a kitchen when the men attacked the workers with knives and pipes.
But she was soon spotted, and the attackers pulled her down the stairway, with her head and back repeatedly hitting the steps, Peng said.
Some witnesses told police they saw men kick the old woman after she was pulled to the ground in front of the building while the rest of the gang threw some of the workers’ luggage and quilts out of the window of the office they were in.
The old woman, four workers and a neighborhood security worker trying to mediate and stop the chaos received injuries which included cuts and serious bruises to their heads, arms and knees, according to witnesses.
One of the workers had his hamstring cut, according to colleagues.
The injured were all taken to hospital after police arrived on the scene.
Dong, the company owner, had not shown up to talk with the workers since they began occupying the office.
Gao told the police he heard one of the gang shout: “Spare no effort. The boss ordered us to hit them dead.”
The workers said they were seeking salary payments totaling about 2 million yuan (US$300,548) from a construction project four years ago.
Dong had outsourced part of the project to the workers, including the old woman who had worked as a janitor on the construction site.
But after the project was completed, Dong didn’t clear the salary payments because he said he wasn’t satisfied with the project quality, the workers said.
They recently discovered Dong also operated the clothing company in Minhang and sent representatives to demand settlement.
Before the attack, a local court was mediating between the two sides after the workers filed a lawsuit against Dong.