Overview of China’s Garment Industry Industry Workers Conditions Health Problems Low Wages Transnational Corporations By Jenny W.L. Chan (MPhil in Sociology, University of Hong Kong; Presentation & Paper “Gender and Global Labor Organizing: Migrant Women Workers of Garment Industry in South China.” Conference by Sweatshop Watch, May 8-9, 2005. with Karin Mak, Sweatshop Watch, Trip to China June-July 2005. Garment Industry Total Chinese Exports to U.S. In 2000, 21.6% textile and garment exports In 2002, USD61.69 billion export value Provides path towards economic development in China Pictures are from Shenzhen city, located northward Hong Kong in the Guangdong Province. Shenzhen is one of China's first Special Economic Zones. What are consequences of such development? Who gains and who loses? Workers Most are "migrant workers" who come from rural provinces to work in urban factories. Mostly young women, commonly referred to dagongmei or “working girls.” In their villages and townships, women face limited education opportunity household poverty arranged-marriage pressure and patriarchal oppression Many seek independence and connections to the “modern world” by working in a factory. Migrant Workers Uneven economic development policies in China has led to underdevelopment and poverty in rural areas. As a result, there are over 120 million internal migrant peasant- workers in cities (statistics: the 5th population census of China in 2000) Many workers in the south are from Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou, Sichuan, Jiangxi, and Anhui provinces. Much garment production takes place in Guangdong province in South China. Labor Conditions In a survey of 10 small- to medium- sized garment factories in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone: WORKFORCE: ranges from 50 to 200 persons GENDER: more than 70% female workers AGE: young girls (16 – 22 years) and middle-aged married women OWNERSHIP: small subcontractors (mainland Chinese) and bigger factories (Hong Kong-funded; Taiwan-invested) Long Working Hours China Labor Law Factory Norms Day 8 hours 12-14 hours Week 40 hours (at least 1 rest 90-120 hours (no rest day) day) Month Max. 36 hours overtime +250 hours overtime Very Low Wages piece-rate payment system (not monthly salary) Shenzhen Special Factory Norms Economic Zone (legal standard) May 610 yuan 400-500 yuan 2004-05 (USD76) (USD50-62) Other Wage Problems Often non-payment for 2 to 3 months Below the legal overtime wage rates: 150% on regular working day 200% on Sat and Sun 300% on statutory holidays [International Labor Day, International Women’s Day, New Year Day, etc.] Deductions from basic wages (rent, utilities, food, etc.) Most workers live in dormitories provided by factories (for replenishment of round-the-clock labor and tight labor control). Health Conditions Women’s health problems found in survey of 1,043 migrant women workers of garment and other industries (electronics, toy, plastics and metal-making) [downloadable from CWWN www.cwwn.org] Menstrual disorder Muscle soreness, back pain, headaches, stomachaches Poor eyesight Body fatigue and extreme tiredness Respiratory risks or occupational diseases Other Factory Conditions Heavy penalties and fines Physical and sexual abuse No labor contracts No social insurance and welfare Other (toilet restrictions, punishments, etc.) Workers walk to dormitories after their shift ends. In Shenzhen. Workers gather to watch television outside a shop in Shenzhen. Factories A large-scale garment factory manager of the Pearl River Delta (in Guangdong Province) conducts: Double bookkeeping, fake workers’ time cards and salary statements, false documentation (Reported by Financial Times April 21, 2005) the limits of factory social auditing – no democratic participation of workers in monitoring codes of conducts Worker Resistance Rise in arbitrated labor disputes (wage or occupational health and safety complaints taken to local labor officials) since elimination of quota-system (2005). Labor strikes Work stoppages Stop and block traffic Threaten to jump from buildings Transnational structural forces at the global-level an increasing domination of few giant corporations & retailers Giant corporations and retailers dictate the production, trade and finance, and shipment rhythm of supplying manufacturers at the low-end Worker rights? A manager of a big garment factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province “We are under enormous stress, customers place late orders, they change their orders part way through manufacturing and they pay their bills late. At the same time they ask us to provide better training for our staff, better health and safety and better accommodation. We just cannot do it all.” What percentage of retail price is labor cost? Cost of labor is typically 2-5% of the retail price. While the example is in terms of Hong Kong dollars, similar ratios of labor to retail cost exist for garments sold in U.S. Source:"Turning the Garment Industry Inside Out- Purchasing Practices and Workers' Lives" by Oxfam Hong Kong, April 2004 Pyramid Structure Profit maximization of factory bosses, investors, retailers, and manufacturers “sweating” profits out of workers. Weak implementation of labor laws and regulations by the local officials in China. Chinese workers are the base, but strength of industry, making clothes for foreign (U.S.) brands and companies.