søndag 1. august 2021

The Working Mothers Raising Children on the Assembly Line

Every day, Huang Hongxia’s son makes his homework to the background music of her and her colleagues’ incessantly whirring sewing machines. Huang, 42, works in the factory of “Plus Ten” clothing, in Wuhan’s mostly rural Huangpi District. Every day at 8 a.m., she gets on her bicycle and takes her young son to school before heading to work at the factory. Later in the day, she’ll pop out during her shift to pick him up after class. She’ll then clear a small area beside her sewing machine where he sits and does his homework.

Such a flexible work schedule is unimaginable in most Chinese companies.Once years ago, Huang’s eldest daughter had a high fever. But the factory where Huang then worked wouldn’t let her take time off as it was the busy order season. In the end, her mother-in-law had to be called in to take the girl to the hospital in the city center. All the while, Huang’s daughter missed her mom.

Similar anecdotes are common among the workers at Plus Ten, which currently employs nearly 200 women, all working mothers — a deliberate hiring strategy. The company’s boss, Xiang Jingyan, chose to build the factory near local schools and kindergartens and allow flexible hours as well as employees bringing children to work. Workers tend to arrive early and leave later than scheduled, voluntarily making up for the time they spend on family duties.