Sunday 28 April is the International Labour Organization World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the day workers around the world commemorate the victims of work accidents and occupational disease and urge all governments to take action.
In China Labour Bulletin’s third comprehensive report on pneumoconiosis in China, we highlight the efforts of the workers fighting for justice, the growing support they have received from the media and civil society, and the wholly inadequate response thus far of the government. Photograph of pneumoconiosis activist He Bing by CLB.
China Central Television investigates what happened three years after a group of migrant workers from Leiyang made headlines in 2009 by getting compensation from the Shenzhen government for the pneumoconiosis they contracted whilst working on the city’s building sites. Photograph of the Leiyang workers in Shenzhen in 2009 by CLB.
Xiong Gaolin is one of the lucky ones: a victim of occupational disease in China who has actually received reasonable compensation. However, it took him nearly four years to get that money and there are still issues left unresolved. Xiong could have just accepted part-payment but, like many other workers with occupational illness in China, he is determined to fight on until justice is finally done.
Miner He Quangui is ready to die. Often hit by coughing fits and breathlessness, he is one of hundreds of thousands in China who have contracted silicosis from working in the country's gold, coal or silver mines. And there is no safe cure.
China’s top work safety watch dog has threatened close down dangerously polluting gold mines after discovering that 95 percent of the mines it surveyed violated national safety standards regarding dust emissions. The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) Tuesday ordered state-owned gold mines to take concrete measures to improve safety and curb emissions by August 2012 or face closure. Inspections of 41 gold mines by SAWS found “very severe” levels of harmful dust emissions which invariably cause pneumoconiosis and other fatal lung diseases.
In a potentially significant development in the fight against the occupational disease epidemic that is sweeping China, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) is requiring employers to keep health records of all their employees who are exposed to health hazards.
China Labour Bulletin is cited extensively in this article The Long March of China's Trade Unionists by Ursula Gauthier in the French magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur. 29 July 2011, No.2438. Copyright remains with the original publisher.
A workers rights group that accused Hon Hai Precision Industry of neglecting a ventilation problem in its factories that may have contributed to the Chengdu explosion last week released video footage Tuesday of workers covered in silver-gray dust that the group says illustrates their earlier allegations against the giant electronics manufacturer.