A Better Life for the Workers
The translated artist reproduction of A Better Life for the Workers (I), first published by the now defunct (guess why?) Hong Kong NGO Workers' Empowerment, cannot really be purchased here, but read this first, or learn more and buy from the Display Distribute distro.
From the prologue of A Better Life for the Workers (I):
Finally, after working overtime, I return to the dorm, lying in bed, too tired to even move my hands and feet. No matter how long you've been working in the factory, you'll never fall in love with overtime. If it weren't for overtime pay, who would stay in the factory day and night without complaint?
My eyes stare upwards, but there's nothing to see on the the ceiling. Regardless, no matter where you look, images of the factory from the last day seem to replay over and over in front of you: the machine is running as usual, and the other workers in the workshop are all busy at work, after completing one product and immediately picking up another; it's a streamlined operation that follows the pace of the machine. You hear your supervisor's shouting from time to time, no one dares to raise their head for fear of being singled out. During meal time, you move from the workshop to the cafeteria, crowded to death, everyone stuffs a plate of mystery dishes in their mouths, and go back to work after smoking a cigarette. I collapse at night, the last bit of my energy is squeezed out. There's not a single drop left.
The weather has been so hot recently, the air in the workshop doesn't circulate, and your whole body is sweaty within a few minutes of sitting. Didn't they say that there is a heat allowance? You would already be grateful if they were more accurate with overtime pay, and you didn't have to go to the personnel office to complain every month just to get paid in full; a heat allowance is a dream that will never come true.
You put your phone by the pillow, pick it up and swipe the screen, then put it away again soon after. When you're in good spirits, you might be able to read online novels and chat casually on QQ, but slowly you start to get bored. After all, the topics are about hard work, homesickness, exhausting overtime, insufficient salary, etc. This isn't news to anyone, so by saying it out loud, aren't you just reminding yourself of it all the more? It's time to send money home.
Anyway, no one forced us migrant workers out of our hometowns at gunpoint. We came to the city to make money. Now we have jobs, food, and houseing. So who cares if we get tired?
In addition to being tired, sometimes we see terrible things. For example, last week a colleague sitting behind me had their finger cut off by a machine. At the time, everyone was immersed in work and didn't know how it happened. All of a sudden, someone screamed, and then everything became chaotic. The machine was stopped, someone look for something to wrap the hand of the wounded victim, and then they were sent to the hospital. Because of this unexpected incident, there was a short pause in work, but the team leader couldn't wait to call everyone to start work again.
An old colleague shrugged and said something like, this person was so careless, it's such bad luck, and returned to their post. Anyway, we get used to it. A severed finger. Will it ever grow back? In the future, the injured worker will have to learn to get along with a half-finger. They can't go to to work if they are injured. Medical expenses and living expenses during treatment are all issues. But these thoughts don't linger in the mind for long, the flood of work forces everyone back to the machines. Anyway, we'll be fine as long as we stay careful. What's more important than getting a salary?
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