A fire engulfed a Chinese-operated factory in west Brooklyn in New York on January 4, 2014. Although the New York City Fire Department sent 50 fire engines and 250 firefighters to the factory, the losses were extremely serious. The fire has cast a shadow on the life, property, and safety of China's migrant workers abroad.
Many Chinese workers choose to travel abroad in search of high pay and better employment opportunities. However, the challenges and the pressures they face lead them to question whether they have made the right choice or not.
"The vast majority of workers from China will face language barriers, and it will be difficult for them to find employment," says a manager from the Australian research and policy department. "Therefore they have to work in factories or restaurants operated by Chinese people."
Over the years, the catering industry, retail trade, construction, and the decoration industry have been the first choices for China's overseas laborers. However, such low-pay service sectors have a low market entry threshold, and therefore workers face increasing competition with every year that passes.
Feng, a migrant worker in the decoration industry in the U.K. says that his business has fallen into decline recently. The cost of workers from Eastern Europe is comparatively lower, and he no longer has any advantages. Zhang, a migrant worker in Madrid, Spain, has no fixed job. In order to earn a living and support his family in China, he has to do odd jobs and work day and night.
The high costs involved, low pay, and unstable income, all combine to put migrant workers under great pressure.