Photos: Physically and mentally handicapped people enslaved by factory
A plaster-making factory in central China is reportedly enslaving mentally handicapped workers, who toil in hazardous conditions, are dragged out of bed at 6 a.m. every day, fed on nothing but noodles only twice a day and paid a mere 500 yuan (US$78) a month.
In early August, an anonymous internet posting on a local message board said, “One plaster factory in Pailou township, Dongbao district of Jingmen city hires mentally retarded people to do work without paying them. They eat unsalted plain water. These workers were homeless people from around the railway station or temporary shelters.”
On the afternoon of August 9, the informant took the reporter to the plaster factory. A sign at its entrance reads, “Jingmen Qiangtai Plaster Co., Ltd.” No security guard was stationed at the entrance, but even from a far, their noses smarted from the strong smell given off by the heavy dust. The reporter walked into the factory building, covering his noise. Ear-splitting sounds from chop saws can be heard. White dust was flying around in the 400-square-meter plant.
Not until the reporter walked further did he discover a few workers kneeling next to a chop saw in a cloud of dust. They were covered from head to toe by a thick layer of white powder, some of which just caked on their eye brows and beard. There was no glove, no dust mask or any form of protection from the saw blade or direct exposure to dust, noises. When the reporter tried to talk to them, none of them responded, except one worker made a confusing hand gesture. The informant said that out of the dozen worker in this building, a few are both deaf and mute.
One worker named Zhu Yinliang, who does speak, said that he did not receive any payment, and that he did not want to work here, but was forbidden to leave.
Next to the factory building is a small hut serving as the kitchen, according to the informant. A pungent and stinky smell drifted in the kitchen. A few pots were scattered on the muddy ground. In one pot were leftovers from the unsalted plain noodle given to workers as food.
Then the reporter visited workers’ dormitories, which are a row of makeshift single-storied mud houses. An old worker, probably in his 50s, let the reporter into his room, where, like inside the factory building, everything had half an inch of white dust on its surface. His bed was a bamboo sheet spread out on dozens of bricks. There were no decent bedclothes. The reporter talked to the old worker, and it turned out he has hearing and speech impairment as well.
Later at 7:10 p.m. on that day, the reporter came back to the factory with Mr. Li, the director of the local labor protection department. The cutting saw was still blasting, and six workers were still working. Mr. Li learned that these workers got up at six in the morning every day and often ate only two meals a day.
Most workers were brought here by a man named Deng Yuhua, who claimed to be the contractor, from his hometown Xichuan county of Nanyang, Henan province, without signing any form of contract. They did not even have contact information of their families with them. He paid each of them a monthly wage of 500 yuan (US$78). However, a person in charge at the factory said that the factory gave the workers 1,000 yuan (US$156) each month, and Deng always collected their payments on their behalf.
At first, Deng Yuhua insisted that none of the workers is intellectually challenged. But afterwards, he said those workers from Xichuan county were recommended by his friends and former colleagues. They did not have any government issued ID, so he wasn’t sure if any of them was mentally handicapped. But he hired them anyway, “as long as they can work.” Asked if there is any deaf-mute person, he dodged the question and answered instead, “Most of them don’t feel like talking.”
Top comments from NetEase
81点net [网易北京市网友]：2012-08-29 11:26:27 发表
For the sake of economic interests, they are capable of doing anything.
王兴0927 [网易浙江省台州市网友]：2012-08-29 11:27:47 发表
Every time I see things like this, my words really fail me!
熊文强 [网易新加坡网友]：2012-08-29 11:29:55 发表
A boss like this should get killed.
统计局局长 [网易浙江省宁波市网友]：2012-08-29 11:25:56 发表
Heart-rending. Can’t say anything.
北纬30度的秘密 [网易广东省东莞市网友]：2012-08-29 11:31:50 发表
My eyes got tearful from reading this. What can possibly make me love you, China, a country clouded by material desires?
公务员大人 [网易山东省烟台市网友]：2012-08-29 11:26:02 发表
Where is the village chief? Where? F**k, things like happen, and you still don’t f**king show up?
1山东汉子 [网易山东省临沂市网友]：2012-08-29 11:32:49 发表
Senseless… I got numbed by similar news stories. Not that I don’t have any compassion. It’s just that I was hit, one strike after another, by people’s lives in this bigger environment, which has turned me into a person whose mind is “in a vegetative state”.
大1千1世1界 [网易上海市网友]：2012-08-29 12:27:03 发表
Men eat men all over China.
Actually, I wanted to say: They were scavengers and homeless people before. The boss was a well-meaner. At least, there was a hot bowl of noodles and a shelter from winds and rain in his factory. Or else, you would have to expect the state to support the. They were pretty contented with being able to eat warm food. Which one of those Maotai-drinking leaders bothers to think about the life and death of those homeless people?
网易四川省成都市网友 [海上强国] 的原贴：
Did you see his working conditions? The dust? Would you go even if you are paid 500 yuan a day?
Actually, think about all these years when we have been struggling along the poverty line. Are we really any nobler than them? Except that we have one more meal and a few more dishes, what more do we have?
网易云南省昆明市网友 ip：119.62.*.*2012-08-30 14:25:32 发表
There was nothing but pain and a great sense of helpless in me after I saw this. I guess any person, aware that he is still a human being, wouldn’t do things like this.