INTERNATIONAL WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY
28 APRIL 2003
Every year over 2 million people are killed at work throughout the
world. A further 270 million are injured in work related accidents. An
estimated 160 million people around the world are suffering from work
related illnesses. Some 355,000 fatal accidents take place every year.
* Last year, 2002 in China, there were an estimated 110,000 deaths
from industrial accidents and over 14,000 accidents in the
manufacturing and mining industries
* Over half the people in the world with pneumoconiosis (a lung
disease associated with dust and silica dust) live in China. Over
15,200 new cases occur each year.
* The number of cases of people suffering from toxic poisoning in
foreign owned companies in China reportedly grew 44% from 1999 to
2000. Toxic fumes from benzene and chromium are found in the
majority of small factories producing textiles and other goods.
* In an official survey, over 15% of all workers interviewed were
believed to be suffering from some form of occupational disease.
* In Shenzhen, an average of 13 factory workers a day lose a finger
or an arm and one dies every four and a half days.
* In Yongkang County, Zhejiang province one recent surevy showed
that in Yongkang alone, over 1,000 workers lose fingers while at work
28 April is International Workers Memorial Day.
All around the world unions and other groups are campaigning for an end
to the human cost of labour. China Labour Bulletin is campaigning to put
an end to the needless deaths and injuries of thousands of Chinese workers.
The Chinese authority?s response to the appalling legacy of death and
injury in Chinese industry is inadequate and ineffective. New laws have
been passed on health and safety, on mine management and on occupational
disease and yet the numbers of injured and ill continue to rise. The new
laws are themselves not adequately enforced. Measures to fine and shut
down factories remain unenforced due to local corruption, the lack of
power given to the health and safety inspectors and in some cases,
official cover ups.
The overwhelming push for profits and the apparent disregard for the
safety of workers mean that most factories continue to flout regulations
and fail to invest in even the most basic health and safety equipment.
In many instances the small scale of enterprises means that factories
are housed in small overcrowded buildings with no fire escapes or proper
ventilation. Machines are operated without proper safeguards and little
or no training is given to workers.
When an accident occurs or a worker dies, specially in many privately
owned enterprises, the families of the victims often have to spend years
trying to get compensation. In many cases, the money offered is minimal
and does not even cover the cost of a funeral or immediate medical care.