Saturday, April 17, 2004

"'Made in China'" products tainted with blood from cut-off fingers or hands."

Remember those commercials about how buying illegal drugs leads to terrorism? Well, more appropriate might be commercials showing how buying cheap Chinese goods leads to severed fingers and hands.
Wang Xuebing, a 19-year-old from Hubei province in central China, came to Shenzhen and got a job last July in a metalworking plant.

A month later, his foreman escorted a work crew to a different factory owned by a friend and "asked me and two co-workers to operate a metal mold machine," Wang said. The machine made casings for air conditioners, using tons of pressure to mold sheeting. Wang said the machine went on the fritz, but was rigged to work again.

"When I placed a metal sheet in the machine, it pressed down. My hand was severed. I lost consciousness," Wang recalled.

Zhu Qiang came to the Pearl River Delta region from inland Sichuan province in early 2002. On March 2 of that year, he got a job making industrial plastic and shopping bags. Two weeks later, while working a 16-hour shift, he lost his right hand.

"We were extremely tired. We were nodding our heads, almost asleep," Zhu said. "My hand got tangled with the plastic and got burned. I was rushed to the hospital. There was no way to save my hand."

For the loss of his right hand, 22-year-old Zhu was given about $4,800
This article describes in graphic detail how young Chinese workers migrate from rural areas to the city, then go to work in factories on machinery from which the guards have been removed in order to speed up production to meet the low cost demands from the United States.
In Shenzhen's hospital wards, maimed factory workers nurse mangled hands and forearm stumps. They tell of factory managers who've removed machine safety guards that slowed output, and of working on decrepit, unsafe machinery. Workers toiling 100 hours a week grow dazed from fatigue, then lose their fingers to machines.

Local officials routinely overlook appalling safety conditions, worried that factory owners will relocate. They send mutilated migrant workers back to distant rural villages, shunting the burden of workplace injuries onto poorer inland provinces….

Chinese Communist Party leaders are so eager to maintain high economic growth, and to create jobs for tens of millions of potentially restive Chinese, that they now preside over a savage form of capitalism. It's one in which maimed migrant workers can readily be discarded. Independent labor unions are banned. Workers are placed in front of machines for endless stretches.
So who's to blame? Sounds like Wal-Mart and its ilk to me.
Labor monitors say foreign companies that relentlessly demand lower prices, and U.S. consumers who gobble up low-cost goods, contribute to the problem.

Zhou Litai, a lawyer who represents hundreds of workers maimed or killed on the job, said foreign consumers should be aware that some "Made in China" products "are tainted with blood from cut-off fingers or hands."