Monday, February 24, 2014

Unrest in workers’ paradise (曹征路之問蒼茫)

I have been getting a lot of education lately from my daughter A, through the books that she recommended.  This is one of those novels that I cannot put down.  Its central character is a young woman who went from a remote village in the mountains of Guizhou to work in a factory in Shenzhen.  Some of her friends had to “開處” - offer their virginity to the recruiters - in exchange for a job.  The factory paid very low wages during the “trial” period, at the end of which it fired most of the workers on trial.  Repeating this process, the factory kept the labor cost very low.  When a young woman worker was badly burnt trying to put out a fire, the owner accused the victim of ”碰瓷“ - deliberately getting herself hurt -  to get herself a big payout for compensation.  These are just some of the horrors in the factories of Shenzhen.  

The day after I finished the book, I bumped into many stories of labour unrest on just one single page in a local newspaper.  Many of which looked like they came straight out of the novel.  This is ironic to the extreme.  The Communists are in power in China.  They came into power by claiming to be fighting for the workers, who were oppressed by the Capitalists.  If it were true, a Communist country should be a paradise for workers.  Why are the workers so unhappy?  Why do the workers continue to be exploited?  Do Communists turn out to be Capitalists in disguise?

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