Sudden death of a 14 year old child worker from a factory in Foshan

Recently, Chinese media reported the death of a 14 year old child worker from a factory in Foshan. The victim was Wang Pan, known as Xiao Pan, who came to Guangdong’s Foshan with his mum, to work at Zhi Ya Undergarment Company. Xiao Pan and his mum were from Hunan province, and had arrived in early Mach, to earn some money to support the family. On the night of April 10, he had gone to bed at his rental apartment as usual, however, was found unconscious at around 6am the next day, April 11. The emergency number was called, however, Xiao Wang had already passed away.

(Picture from Xinhua News Agency) 

According to his family, Xiao Wang worked mainly in the sewing and stitching department, with 11 to 12 hour days. China Labor Watch sent an investigator to the factory to interview workers, who revealed that they only had one or two rest days per month. Regular shift hours were from 8am till 12.00 pm, workers then commenced work again from 1.30pm till 6.00pm, and finally from 6.30pm till 10.00 pm or 11.00 pm. Chinese Labor Law stipulates that workers cannot work more than 40 hours a week. Furthermore, Article 15 prohibits employers from recruiting juveniles who are under the age of 16.

Zhi Ya Undergarment Company is located in the Guangdong province, Foshan and was established around 8 years ago. The company is a design, manufacturing and marketing company for products such as bras and underwear. They mainly manufacture products for the brand “Yi Ren Feng Cai”. These products are sold on Taobao.

Following the sudden death of Xiao Pan, officials from the Nanhai Social Security Bureau investigated Zhi Ya Undergarment Company. They discovered that the factory has been employing child labor, and subsequently fined the company 10,000 RMB (1,500 USD). Officials did not find the presence of excessive over time hours. Zhi Ya also signed an agreement with the family to pay a one-off compensation amounting to 150,000 RMB (23,000 USD).

The 10,000 RMB fine was seen by the public as a light penalty. Officials from the Social Security Bureau responded that the fine was in line with penalties as stipulated by law. They referred to Article 6 of the “Prohibition of the use of child labor”, which states that for each child laborer found, the company will be fined 5,000 RMB per month. The fine of 10,000 RMB reflects Zhinan’s use of a child worker from March 5th till April 10th.

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