It is soon the Chinese New year and WethicA is working in China since more than 10 years now. It seems a good time for a look back to point out some evolutions.
Although it can not always be seen at first glance while visiting a factory, changes have been massive in China in since2004.
There are some obvious ones as the workers wages. We frequently found the legal minimum wages could not be met when the legal minimum was as low as RMB3.2 per hour. Gaps on wages are usually no more on the compliance with the legal minimum wage although it is now often over RMB8 per hour.
The working time is also an important change as one day off per month was the prevailing practice in 2004 while we now often found factories with full compliance on the 7th day off. As a result, workers have more time to rest, and there are very few extreme cases of working time over 85 hours a week. However, the working time remains a point with non-compliances in every factories. It has indeed brought a negative change. The factories are, in many cases, no more transparent, leading to many difficulties to assess the actual situation accurately.
The Safety is another topic where changes have been great, with improvements on almost every level. On the equipment with better electrical boxes for example, on general awareness with only few problems on locked exit found this year while it was frequent in 2004. Management of chemicals and individual protection remain the key points of improvement, but clearly Chinese factories are now better than their neighbors.
It is obviously difficult to know the changes that will occur in the next 10 years. But for once, it seems important to acknowledge the factories achievements.
All the enclosed pictures have been taken in 2004.