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The Secret Behind China's Cheap Labor

By Edited Jun 21, 2016 0 0

When you buy a toy where do you think it’s manufactured? More often than not it is produced in China. The workers in Chinese factories make little to nothing in pay, which is why many companies produce their products in China. In August 2000 it was revealed that one of the factories in China, that was making the toys for McDonald's, was using child labor. The deals for many companies are done in China, but the production is contracted out to mainland Chinese factories.

 

Chinese factory
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seagate_Wuxi_China_Factory_Tour.jpg

The Chinese Workers

China’s provinces are considerably poor. Most workers come from far away China provinces looking to help their families in any way they can. The workers in the factories are 90% women because women are "easier to manage". They take a very low paying factory job because they see it as better than nothing. However, it is not better than nothing because they become trapped in the factory until they quit. The low wages forces them to live and eat in the factory, because the price is too expensive elsewhere. The workers live in crammed, small rooms with 12-19 other workers. The workers get paid on how fast they work. Usually the workers make 72.99 a month, but if they work slow they earn 48.66 a month. The workers sometimes want to save their money so they skip breakfast and go straight to working. This causes many workers to faint and become ill. The workers are forced to work 14 hours a day for 7 days a week. When a product demand is high, the workers are asked to work overtime for many days in a row. They stay up all night working with no breaks. They become dizzy and their eyes become weary, which heightens the risk of a worker's injury. The worst part, after 130 hours overtime a month, they are not compensated one cent. The workers in a Chinese toy factory work with plastics that are over 200°C. This poses two threats to the living condition of the workers:

•First, it makes the environment of the factory as hot as July summer day.

•Second, if the workers come into contact with the hot plastics they will be severely burned. 

The worst thing that can happen to workers is a factory fire. The most deadly factory fire to date occurred in Thailand, May 10th, 1993. The overcrowded conditions lead to workers trampling each other and jumping out windows just to escape. The fire left 188 workers dead, and 469 injured.

 

What Do The Companies Do?

Companies check the worker’s conditions from time to time. The companies say they [the workers] prefer to work continuously. The companies' words are untrue. The workers don’t want to work so many hours, they would prefer to have better wages and less hours a month. When the companies ask to see the overtime time cards, the factory hands the companies fake time cards that show little overtime per worker. The fake time cards cheat the hard workers out of their pay. The companies are shown fake wage lists that represent  higher wages than what the workers are actually paid. The suppliers pay some workers to answer questions from the companies. They warn the workers not to talk about real working hours and pay. They say "there is no problem with enforcing ethical rights in the factories", but this is just what they know from fake documents they receive. Companies can increase their product cost by 20% to make sure their workers are paid fairly but, the companies don’t think of their employee’s rights and life, they only care about maximizing profits.

 

The Vicious Cycle

The low wages of China put pressure on surrounding economies too. Workers in neighboring countries such as Thailand are now being paid as low as the Chinese because they are threatened by the suppliers. The suppliers threaten to move to China and pay the workers much lowers wages. The workers in Thailand accept their pay because they see the little they get from their job better than the nothing they would get when the supplier moves to China. The vicious cycle brings down working conditions in all neighboring countries. Although their economy may look good, it is all a lie backed by unethical working conditions and unfair pay.

 

Santa's Workshop - Inside China's Slave Labour Toy Factories

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