You know all those things you hear about Chinese factories? Over working, long hours, bad rates of pay, moaning staff, slavery and that stupid term “sweat shops”? It was time to try and dispel some of these myths, or indeed prove them to be correct. I recently went on a “behind the scenes tour” of the Chinese Plastics Factory.
It was set in the province of Guangdong in China, which is a popular province for factories, given its proximity or inclusion of cities like Zhuhai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong….all of whom offer water gateways to the world – exportation of goods on container ships. I was whisked away in a dark colored car, accompanied by a relative of the factory’s founder and one of the factories managers…..revving engines on the way through the factory gates. A guard on the gates who “didn’t want to be there”. A padlock and a bell ring and we were parked inside. Dark and hot.
I was introduced to the manager of the factory and told not to take any photos or videos.
They melt, mould and make plastics here – of all shapes and sizes and designs. The plastics, to my surprise are mass produced in bulk and all written in English: Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and Happy Mother’s Day plastic gifts.
A tidy office with a water cannister lights up the darkness. Beyond that a row of workers party the night hours away moulding plasic while a radio beats the sounds they want to hear. They joke as they make endless plastic objects all of which fall tidily into boxes at the end of the rows. Once the pink ones are finished, they move on to blue. They are working away, earning money for their families and loved ones. The manager passes me through the corridors saying hello and exchanging jokes in Chinese with his workers.
How do you organise a behind the scenes visit to a Chinese Factory?
With great difficulty. These are the best two ways: know the owner, manager or workers of the factory or work there, obviously not most efficient if you’re traveling in from the west. Two videos I was permitted to take on the day I went behind the scenes in a Chinese Factory:
Top image of another local Chinese factory studycli.org, rest from the Chinese Plastics Factory.