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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Santa's little sweatshops"

Asian Labour Network has this story (originally from the Telegraph) about death and resistance in the sprawling industrial zone of China's Pearl River Delta. As in the NYT piece posted in the Chinese strikers' blog mentioned below, this article points out that one of the roots of the current unrest is the labour shortage in the region. This is obviously giving workers quite a bit of confidence to fight back against their abysmal conditions.

The Telegraph article also brings up the issue of 'death from overwork' (gulaosi 過労死). This is a concept that has been well known in Japan and South Korea for some time (pronounced kwarosa in Korean, karoshi in Japanese), although it is used as much with reference to white collar workers ('salary men') as to industrial workers. In Japan it is recognised as enough of a problem for there to be a national 'Karoshi Hotline'.

I have to say that my theory on kwarosa / karoshi when it comes to salary men is that part of the problem stems from having to do a ten-hour day and then another six hours of corporate entertaining / drinking with the boss. And still get up at 6am the next day to commute to work.


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