Last week the Chinese media reported that on average one mining accident every week is being covered up by management.
Those responsible for safety had sabotaged scenes, destroyed evidence and moved bodies, Xinhua News Agency quoted Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, as saying, adding that most had been brought to justice.
In one 10-day period last month, 72 people were killed in four separate accidents.
The number of mine accidents last month rose 153.8 percent from February.
A mine owner fled this week after an explosion in the central province of Henan trapped 33 of his workers, hampering work for rescuers who lacked detailed knowledge of the colliery.
The pit was still "a sea of fire" two days after the accident with high gas levels that could cause fresh explosions, Xinhua said, adding that all coal mines in the area have been shut for a month for safety audits. (The Standard, Hong Kong)
China's mines are among the most dangerous in the world with over 5,000 deaths reported every year. The rapid growth of Chinese industrialisation means there is a constant expansion of coal mining, which provides 70% of China's energy supplies. "Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego." (New York Times) As well as workplace dangers, mining areas are also heavily polluted, with towns often covered with a permanent toxic dust and smog. Unsurprisingly, respiratory diseases and other health problems are common.
[size=14]Perth mine bosses: 46 hours or the dole[/size]
Meanwhile Australian miners are being threatened with redundancy by bosses if they resist a proposed compulsory 46 hour week. The P&H MinePro company in Perth has threatened to relocate to China unless workers accept the longer hours. The company has proposed the 46 hr week over seven days, allowing bosses to make shift changes at short notice; this would severely impact on workers' leisure time, making it difficult to organise family and social life.
Members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union at the mine have rejected the proposals and voted for industrial action.