The Working Class in China, 15 images

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Over the years we collected many images of the nightmarish work conditions of Chinese migrant workers. Most of those people are like modern slaves with limited access to social insurance and suffering from poor health conditions.

In 2012, there are a reported 167 million migrant workers, but with trends of working closer to home (within their own or a neighbouring province) but with a wage drop of 21%. Migrant workers in China are notoriously marginalized, especially by the hukou system of residency permits, which tie one stated residence to all social welfare benefits. Overall, the Chinese government has tacitly supported migration as means of providing labour for factories and construction sites and for the long term goals of transforming China from a rural-based economy to an urban-based one. [Wikipedia]

Photos by Matteo Damiani [China-Underground.com]

The working condition is one manifest aspect of labor standards violations.The majority of migrants work more hours per day and more days per week than what is limited by labor law.

Safety is another concern regarding the working condition. The prevalence of migrant workers in dangerous jobs results in a high number of work-related illnesses, injuries and deaths.

Migrant workers make up 80% of the deaths in mining, construction, and chemical factories. And about 90% of those suffering from work-related diseases are migrant workers.

According to an article in China Daily in 2006, nearly 30% of migrant workers earned RMB 300 and 500 on average per month, nearly 40% between RMB 500 and 800 and about 28% more than RMB 800.

The limited access of migrant workers to social insurance highlights their vulnerability.

A survey of migrant workers published in the journal “Public Health Reports” indicated that “forty-seven percent of the migrants were unwilling to make contributions to health insurance,” and “poor living conditions and inattention to health may make migrants vulnerable to poor long-term health.”

Building the CCTV Towers, Beijing

CCTV Towers construction site

Source: Wikipedia 1 , Wikipedia 2