Monday, April 30, 2007

Remember The Dead : Fight For The Living

Just passed on the 28th of April was International Workers Memorial Day . I was amiss in not reminding people with a post .

What drew my attention to it was this news item .

In China , an average of 17 miners are killed in mining accidents each day, the official People's Daily newspaper reports. But probably higher .

China's mining industry has a controversial recordThousands of miners and cement workers in China are dying each year from breathing in coal and cement dust . The lung disease known as "black lung" or pneumoconiosis accounts for three quarters of all occupational deaths

Of 677,000 occupational disease cases reported in China since the 1950s, more than 90% were pneumoconiosis cases, health ministry spokesperson Su Zhi said. Last year alone, the black lung disease accounted for 76% of the 11,000 new occupational disease cases reported. 621 of the pneumoconiosis cases reported last year involved workers under the age of 18.

As this article recalls , in the 17th and 18th Centuries , peasants in England, Scotland, in continental Europe and, later, elsewhere were forced off the land and herded into factories. Today, we witness a similar situation in China . Millions of Chinese workers who have moved from the countryside to serve the country’s expansion are “overworked, underpaid, denied access to health care, education for their children, and even the right to live permanently in the cities which use their labour,” and are treated as an underclass.

“They are forced to work long stretches of overtime, often denied time off when sick, and labour under hazardous conditions for paltry wages. As well as being exploited by employers, migrant families face discriminatory government regulations in almost every area of daily life...lack free trade union representation in their factories and restaurants, often working 14-hour days, 30 days a month . . .”

Meanwhile, a very rich minority of capitalists, of whom many are or were Communist Party functionaries, and factory managers, have emerged in China .