Friday, July 10, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: Work Conditions Getting Worse


Much fuss was made last year when China unveiled a series of labor laws that seemed to better protect the average worker. Now an URBAN debate continues to rage on whether the labors laws just protect the unproductive or whether they are really useful, and timely.

But what about the migrant workers? Are they protected under the labor law and have their lives improved? Well, the labor law, see article, seemed to be focused in the right places but no one was expecting a financial crisis - which led to a demand crisis - which led to a Chinese export crisis - which led to a Dongguan crisis - which led to most employers throwing the new labor law out the window. What a series of chain reactions!

LINK: New York Times: Despite Law, Job Conditions Worsen in China

David Barboza for the New York Times writes an interesting feature on the plight of one family, in one factory and how that relates to the industry at large. I photographed the portrait of the family in question under very tense conditions just a few steps away from the factory where their son had been killed.

Having spent so much time in China, I've seen my fair share of factory floors and I had been under the impression that things were improving. Over the years working conditions have improved, even if wages and living conditions haven't. But workers still work too many hours, too much overtime and in poorly lit conditions - which leds to exhaustion and avoidable accidents, sometimes fatal.

My intention for this blog is to raise awareness that the financial crisis is causing cut backs not just in the US and Europe but also on the factory floors of southern China; and those cutbacks have led to more dangerous working conditions the for the most exposed portion of China's population - it's migrant workers. Please do read the article, it's a good one; I am very glad I was able to be a part of it.

Ryan Pyle

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Ryan Pyle