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Thursday
Jun272013

Boss Exits Barricaded Factory in Beijing After Deal with Workers

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- At a time when most people are just starting their days, a crowd was already growing in front of Specialty Medical Supply in the northern outskirts of Beijing where, earlier Thursday morning, company executive Chip Starnes was released from the office where he said he sat as a hostage for nearly a week.

Company employees had allegedly kept Starnes, 42, barricaded in the factory since Friday after hearing rumors that the company would be moving to Mumbai, India.  Fearing that he would flee the country before a compromise could be reached, they set up barricades at the facility in order to negotiate a deal to save their jobs.

The company scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning, but a manager said Starnes had already left the facility and returned to his hotel, adding that he was "very tired."

Chu Li Xiang, representative of the Workers Union in Huairou district, said that the standoff had a "satisfactory conclusion for both sides."

But she was unwilling to disclose the exact amount in the settlement in an attempt to protect the workers' privacy.

Deliberations ended at 5 a.m. local time with 97 workers signing settlement agreements.

During his apparent confinement, Starnes made statements to the media through his barred office window.  He said he felt like a "trapped animal" and that the workers were taunting him, as well as depriving him of sleep by banging on the door and shining lights through the window.

Workers have denied that they mistreated or imprisoned Starnes, claiming that they not only let him walk around the inside of the factory but also brought him sufficient food and drink during his stay.

Despite the ordeal, Starnes says he wants to continue his business in China and hopes to sign new contracts with some of the workers who he says held him hostage.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio