Wal-Mart Dungeon in China
lizmichael.com ^ | National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights.
Posted on 03/01/2003 9:38 PM PST by Megalomaniac
Wal-Mart Dungeon in China
These are the statistics of the Qin Shi Handbag Factory in Sanxiang Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China. This information was provided
through the National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights.
There are 1000 workers at the Qin Shi Handbag Factory in Zhongshan City. 90% of them are young men 16 to 23 years of age; almost all migrants are from
Wal-Mart started producing Kathie Lee handbags at the Qin Shi factory in September, 1999. The workers passed the NLC a Qin Shi/Wal-Mart invoice form
dated September 2, 1999 which calls for the production of 5,400 Kathie Lee handbags (style #62657 70575) to be delivered no later than October 20,
Before that, Qin Shi produced handbags for Payless carrying the Predictions label. (In 1999, Payless was the eighth largest importer by weight of
goods entering the United States. Wal-Mart was, of course, the first. In the latest six-month period availableóOctober 1999 to March 2000-a search of
U.S. Customs Department shipping records made available in the PIERS database, show that 53 percent of Wal-Martís total imports worldwide come from
Qin Shi Factory/Wal-Mart: Indentured Servants held under prison-like conditions The daily work shift at the Qin Shi Factory is 12 to 14 hours, seven
days a week, 30 days a month.At the end of the day the workers return ìhomeî to a cramped dorm room sharing metal bunk beds with 16 other people. At
most, workers are allowed outside of the factory for just one and one half hours a day. Otherwise they are locked in.
Working up to 98 hours a week, it is not easy to find the time to go out. But the workers have another fear as well. Before entering the Qin Shi
factory, management confiscates the identification documents of each worker.When someone goes outside, the company also takes away their factory I.D.
tag, leaving them with no identification at all. If you are stopped by the local security police you could be detained and deported back to your rural
province as an illegal migrant.
When you need to use the bathroom the company again confiscates your factory I.D. and monitors the time you spend. If you are away from your
workstation for more than eight minutes you will receive a severe fine.
All new employees are illegally charged a deposit of 80 rmb ($9.64 U.S.) for a three year work contract, along with another 32 rmb ($3.86) for the
first 10 days living expenses, which includes two dismal meals a day.
Further deductions from the workersí wages are made for the temporary residency and work permits the workers need, which the factory management
intentionally delays applying for for several months. This also leaves the workers trapped and afraid to leave the factory grounds, since without
these legal permits they can be deported at any minute.
Qin Shi management also illegally withholds the workers first monthís wages, so it is only at the end of the second month that the workers receive, or
may receive, their first pay. Because of all of the deductions and fines, many workers earn nothing at all after two months work, and instead, are
actually in debt to the company.
Fines for violating any of the strict company rules are severe, a practice made even worse by the fact that armed company security guards can keep 30
percent of any fines they levy against the workers.
The workers making Wal-Mart Kathie Lee handbags report being subjected to body searches, as well as physical and verbal abuse by security guards and
quality control supervisors.
The workers are charged 560 rmb ($67.47 U.S.) for dorm and living expenses, which is an enormous amount given that the highest take home wage our
researchers found in the factory was just 10 cents an hour. There were others who earned just 36 cents for more than a monthís work, earning just
8/100th of a cent an hour. Many workers earned nothing at all and owed money to the company.
Seventy percent of the workers said they lacked money for even the most basic expenses, and were forced, for example, to go without even bread and tea
Lacking money and with constraints on their freedom of movement the Qin Shi workers making Kathie Lee handbags were being held in conditions
resembling indentured servitude.
In a vicious trap, they did not even have enough money to travel to look for other work.