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the dongguan sanding room

Dongguan sanding bay – one of 36

Like to spend 12 hours a day, seven days a week, every day a month but one in this room – on about $2.50 US an hour?

Have a look at the exhaust fans, the lighting, the power leads.

This factory has about 36 such rooms and in full swing there are fifty plus Chinese men grinding away at boards made for the western pleasure markets. The rooms are stacked up on tiers like prison cells and when the men come out for lunch they are heavily dusted from head to feet – sometimes they find the simple face masks too restricting and they dispose of them and breath in the glass dust all day.

The older workers hack and cough and spit all manner of discoloured waste onto the ground, then light up unfiltered smokes. Country men, hard-handed and even-tempered. They look at us without envy or wonder, like you would a foreign animal in a zoo. They do not comprehend the young Australians playing with their electric playcars on the bare lot between the sheds, and sometimes they will laugh softly between themselves as they stare over.

Payday comes around on the last Friday of the month and after wiring most of it back to their families in the country the Chinese and expats book a local restaurant for dinner and drinking – and this is the night everybody loosens right up – (to be continued ..)

Stop buying Chinese (Asian) made boards and fifty men lose their jobs. Upgrade the plant so that computers etc run the machinery and fifty men lose their jobs. Reduce the price of locally made boards to match Asian made prices and fifty men lose their jobs ……. there is no answer.

Previously published in Kurungabaa

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