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Florida Executive Being Held Hostage by Workers in Beijing

Chip Starnes, an American executive of Coral Springs-based Specialty Medical Supplies, has reportedly been held hostage by his workers for the past four days at the company's medical supply plant in Beijing, China.

Starnes, 42, says around 80 workers have blocked off every exit in the plant in shifts and are holding him hostage while demanding the same severance packages their coworkers in a phased-out department had received.

Starns claims the workers have been depriving him of sleep by shining lights and banging on the windows of his office. They are expecting wire transfers by Tuesday.

The executive visited the plant on Saturday to make it clear that the workers would not be getting laid off, as their coworkers had been. The workers who are holding Sterns have refused to speak to the foreign media.

"I feel like a trapped animal," Starnes told the Associated Press on Monday from his first-floor office window while holding onto the window's bars. "I think it's inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for ten years and created a lot of jobs, and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen."

Meanwhile, police have arrived to the plant to keep order, and while they are guaranteeing Stern's safety, they did not reveal if they had any plans to bring the situation to a close.

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy have been let inside the gates to where the plant is located, and spokesman Nolan Barkhouse says the two sides were on the verge of an agreement.

Stern's company had been downsizing. Many of the workers who were laid off had been employed with the company more than nine years and received "generous" severance packages.

The remaining workers heard of this and began to demand the same severance on Friday.

Apparently workers taking their bosses hostage seems to be a common occurrence in China, and officials are hopeful this will end soon.

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