The days are long, as the body labors for at least 12 hours. Chinese factory workers are in production mode. They are toiling away assembling products that will be shipped to the U.S. and worldwide. The days are already long and hot, yet overtime is at times required by department managers and team leaders.
These hard-working men have little free time, so preparation for the next day’s work is little to none. Wages for the average factory worker are less than $450 per month, and dissatisfied workers don’t see any way to improve this ritualistic system. Most choose to settle into a lifestyle of pain and misery with no expectation of change. One worker noted:
“Hard work for long hours every day as well as overtime. If you think the overtime hours are too long, you are told to talk to your department manager and inform them of the problem, but the complaint is useless. It’s hopeless, and our opinions are of no use, complaints of dissatisfaction and low wages are of no use to anyone. We are useless.”
Midea Global is in the Shunde District in Southern China and it is a publicly traded fortune 500 company. It is one of many factories located in China that exports its products to the U.S. It is the world’s largest producer of major appliances and heating and air conditioning (HAVC) equipment.
Company revenue in the U.S. is over US$22 billion dollars annually, according to the company’s website.
There have been recent complaints that a few workers were sick from heat exhaustion due to the company’s failure to repair the factory’s inadequate cooling system. Temperatures in the region at the time were in the 80s and 90s. Under these conditions, the workers toil for 12 hours producing products worth millions less, but only receive $17 per day.
At least one manager at the factory understands that the workers need time to rejuvenate, and is trying to keep overtime to a minimum. He also sees to it that the factory floor is inspected every day, and maintains a level of safety and efficiency.
Consequently, there is an element of hope for the workers at this particular factory, but conditions at many others across China remain difficult at best.
Written by Denise Darcel Woodford.