Factory Fire Kills Child Workers, Followed by Reporting Ban – Xing Rongqin

From Yulun Jiandu, translated by CDT:

A fire enveloped a private-run socks factory at Datang Township of Zhuji City in Zhejiang Province on July 16, killing three women workers, two of whom are children, according to a survivor who successfully ran away from the disaster.

The boss and his wife were the first to escape from the fire but were both burnt to different degrees. Reporters were told by an employee at the city work safety agency that he had yet to learn what happened as he just came to work.

Police were much quicker at work, though. The venue was cordoned off and local propaganda authorities banned any reporting. The next day, under requests of relevant authorities, the socks factory paid up all the salaries of and sent them off home. Other workers were put under house arrest at a guesthouse, guarded by police and cut off any contact with the outside. [Full Text in Chinese]

It is learned that Zhuji has become “the socks capital of the world,” thanks to its booming socks making industry and increasing number of factories. With an ever increasing demand for socks and shortage of labor, many bosses started hiring child labor. As many of the factories are operations housed by residential apartments, safety standards are low and many bosses lock the employees up for fearing being found about employing child labor.

See also LA Times’ “China’s Use of Child Labor Emerges From the Shadows” carried by LaborRights.org:
The deaths of five girls draw attention to the practice, common in struggling rural areas.

And ThinkQuest.org’s “Child Labor in China

July 23, 2006 6:58 PM
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Categories: Economy, Society