China: Capitalism works you to death - literally

Following another worker's death, Ret Marut examines the conditions in China's factories.

Submitted by Red Marriott on September 11, 2006

Every year, 8.5 million Chinese peasants move into cities. Yang Xixiang left her village and family in the Chongqing area of central China in 1992 to find work in the city. She needed to support her husband's hepatitis B treatment.

She found work in a toy factory in Guangzhou in the south, where under normal conditions workers work 12 hour shifts and longer. Yang's co-worker, Wang, said: "workers in the factory always had to work for more than 12 hours each day in the factory. "We start working at 8am and finish work at 2am or 3am on the next day. If we don't do overtime work, we'd be fined by the factory management," she continued."

"Wang Yan, who was Yang's co-worker at the factory in Zengzheng county in Guangzhou and shared the same dormitory room with her, recalled that before Yang was found unconscious in the dormitory at 7pm on 8 August [2006], she had worked for 21 hours non-stop, except for meal time. Yang was declared dead after she was taken to the hospital. The cause of her death was found to be brain stem bleeding." source

On 17th August, when Yang's sick husband and his 3 young daughters came to the factory demanding an explanation and compensation, the factory bosses initially claimed his wife had died from other pre-existing illnesses. Only after a strike by 40 furious fellow workers did they agree to pay 52,000 yuan (£3,500/$6,500/€5,144) in compensation.