The China Labour Bulletin is campaigning for improved health and safety laws to protect thousands of Chinese workers injured and killed every year.
Last year there were an estimated 110,000 deaths from industrial accidents in China and nearly 14,000 accidents in the manufacturing and mining industries alone. Over half the people in the world with pneumoconiosis (a lung disease associated with dust and silica dust) live in China. In an official survey, over 15% of all workers interviewed were believed to be suffering from some form of occupational disease.
The number of cases of people suffering from toxic poisoning in foreign owned companies in China reportedly grew 44% from 1999 to 2000. Toxic fumes from benzene and chromium are found in the majority of small factories producing textiles and other goods.
New laws have been passed on health and safety, on mine management and on occupational disease, and yet the numbers of injured and ill continue to rise. The new laws are not adequately enforced. Measures to fine and shut down factories remain unenforced due to local corruption, the lack of power given to the health and safety inspectors, and, in some cases, official cover-ups. Workers cannot represent themselves because of the ban on independent unions.
The overwhelming push for profits and the apparent disregard for the safety of workers mean that most factories continue to flout regulations.
- For more information visit theCina Labour Bulletin web site.