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Carnival workers strike over pay

AROUND 150 workers at the Shanghai Grand Carnival, which is in full swing in the Pudong New Area, took part in a strike over unpaid wages which lasted until the early hours of yesterday. At around noon on Thursday, they gathered at the entrance to the carnival venue, site of the World Expo, in their uniforms in a 14-hour protest at not being paid since the event opened on July 28. The workers said they were hired as entertainment assistants whose duties included explaining the rides to the public. Pudong social security officials said yesterday they had told the company in charge of the event to pay part of the employees' salaries. "The strike started from 12pm, and didn't end until 2am," said a carnival worker. "The salary on the contract was 11 yuan (US$1.7) an hour, but we hadn't received a single buck from the start." The strike had no effect on carnivalgoers, the employee said, as many assistants kept on working. One of the strikers made a video of the protest and uploaded it to the Internet. A man was shown telling them: "Either you go check in for work, or you leave." The instruction was greeted by catcalls from the protesters who said they would not leave or start working until they got their wages. Pudong officials said an initial investigation showed that the Shanghai Shanggong Labor Service Company had failed to give employees their salary according to their contracts. They ordered the company and the event's organizing committee to issue 100,000 yuan to be paid to the strikers. Employees also asked for compensation, but hadn't reached an agreement with their bosses. The case was still under investigation, the officials said. A spokesman for the organizing committee said the conflict had arisen because the foreign investors in the carnival had recruited many more assistants than were needed. The carnival, co-organized by the United Arab Emirates-based Freij Entertaining Co Ltd, was back in Shanghai after a six-year absence. In 2005, an Indian electrician was killed in a roller coaster accident! when he strayed on to the track.

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