Located in the remote suburb of Beijing, Picun Village, even unfamiliar to many Beijingers, is the largest concentration region of migrant workers and houses a special museum-The Culture and Arts Museum of Migrant Labors- the only existing museum designed for migrant labors in China. Inside the shabby museum which was founded by migrant workers here themselves, you can see exhibition reflecting the daily life and work site of migrant workers. In one room, lots of newspaper clippings cover a whole wall, telling the stories of poor treatments imposed on workers. The problems faced by Chinese workers are epitomized by the museum in a hidden corner.
Coal mine accident
China is the world’s largest coal producer but also has the largest number of coal mine accidents, accounting for 80% of the total death toll across the world. Though China’s government strives to boost safety production and intensify regulation, the coal mine accident keeps flaring up. Most of the accidents happen in the illegal coal mines that are not up to the safety production, so workers of those coal mines are put in a danger. What’s worse, some news of coal mine accidents are suppressed by the owners of the coal mines and even authorities. Coal workers risk their lives to making a living and their rights most often the cases can not be safeguarded.
The photo above shows a common method employed by workers in China to “beg” their hard-earned money from their bosses. Some workers even go extreme to threaten their bosses by committing suicide. Their attempts to getting back payment in some way reflect that they are unable to resort to laws to protect their own rights. The work unions in China are just a symbolic institutions, thus workers are in a disadvantaged position against their bosses. The bosses detain most part of the workers salary and only give the subsistence allowance, so that the workers have no choice but to continue work.
Every year, thousands of steel are severed by the machine tools in factories scattered in the Pearl River Delta and also thousands of bloody fingers. Just a split of second, a worker can lose the finger and a nightmare will await ahead of him. The first problem for him is the prohibitive treatment cost, besides most of migrant workers are not covered by the health care insurance, which means they should bear the cost themselves. It is said that every severed finger can receive Rmb2000 in compensation in central and western regions of China and Rmb8000 in costal cities, including the medicine bills and charges for loss of working time. Behind the cold numbers are the physical hurts and mentally sufferings of workers.
The Taiwan-based Foxconn factory known for assembling electronic goods like Apple's iPhone and iPad has gained a darker image for its workers regularly falling to their deaths in its plants in southern China. 14 Deaths from 2010 to 2014 have garnered the world attention. The very cause of workers’ deaths differ, however one thing is in common-they feel the pressure to make money, but the repetitive dull job drives them mad. It is worthwhile to mention that the dead workers are ranging from 18 to 24. From this perspective, China’s industrial workers are also plagued by mental problems.