Monday, March 24, 2008

Labor Conditions in Chinese Factories

In this blog, I am going to focus my attention on the labor conditions in Chinese factories, not with force labor, but with regular employees. Prior to discussing what I found in my research of this question, I will explain what I imagined the working conditions to be like. Before my findings, I thought the working condition for Chinese workers, especially those who worked in factories, were relatively worst than the conditions compared to the United States, but was a cleaner and more organize environment than those conditions of force labor. Again, at this time period, I did not have a complete understanding of the Chinese culture and went by what I heard in the media and what other people would comment. I imagined a life as a Chinese worker was very fast-pace, so they can make deadlines, strict so the workers would not slack off, and organize so it will make their work much easier. Strangely, I never thought about the working conditions in great detail up until this point. I know now the conditions that they went through were more extreme than what I imagined. According to Carol Divjak’s article “Appalling conditions continue in China’s toy factories” published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, Divjak describes thirteen toy factories surveyed in China as grueling. There was reports that children 16 years and under were employed under these factories. There was an estimate about 300 to 4,000 employees working in the 13 factories that were surveyed. He describes their day as hot and crowded working in a small work area for long hours with dangerous equipments such as, toxics glues, and paints. They would work for 13 to 15 hour a day to get a pay less than China’s minimum wage. According to China’s Labors Law Chapter IV Section 36 “The State shall practice a working hour system under which labourers shall work for no more than eight hours a day and or more than 44 hours a week on average.” And according to Divjak report, Out of the thirteen factories, one out of thirteen followed this law. After reading both the article and China’s labor laws I feel as though I learned a lot about China. The conditions at a “regular” company sound just as bad as if a person was forced into working. Of course, this is not present everywhere in China, just some areas. My purpose of this blog was just to present the working conditions in a “regular” factory and reflecting upon my research, I see that child labor is a major problem that needs to be address.

Divjak, Carol March 2006 Appalling conditions continue in China’s toy factories. Electric document, accessed March 20, 2008

China Labor Watch July 1994 China Labor Law. Electric document, accessed March 20, 2008

1 comment:

Tracey Lally said...

This blog’s topic first caught my attention because China has such a large presence in the current world economy. Look at any clothing; there is a high probability that it, along with many other items, were made in China. Child labor I knew was a major factor in the production of all of these goods. I too have wondered about why the workers could be so young and have put blame on the Chinese government. Unregulated sweatshops in general are something that the American culture does not or should not support, so it is beneficial for me to learn about the conditions and how they came to be part of the Chinese work life and why it is a part of their culture but not supported in ours.

I found your blog very informative. I would never have thought about money, especially the lack of money, to be a large cause of child employment in China. And then as an effect from the family not having money to afford school, the child will probably grow up in the factory. A never ending cycle will happen. This in turn means that because of the poverty, they lack the conception of possibilities and thus there is symbolic violence that this is all that life has to offer.

It was interesting to learn that the Chinese government has laws in place (at least as of 1995) to try to prevent child labor. Since I thought the government was somehow pushing cheap labor, it was surprising to lean about such a law. While it is good that the government is trying, enforcing a law is the hard part. Since there are so many people in China, enforcing child laws may not be an important priority. You stated that the counterfeit ID’s are a big reason why it is hard to enforce the law. It is interesting that the Chinese workers use fake ID’s to get into factories to work while in the Unites States, young adults use fake ID’s to get into clubs to drink. Did you perhaps find out who provided the fake IDs? Did the children feel pressure to work to support the family or did the parents need the child’s (however small) income to survive?

This blog used data and facts without being too much of only research. You analyzed the child labor situation very well, and approached the topic from different angles. Good job thus far on the cross-cultural encounter!