verdickt_280As China is in constant demand for labourers to build the new emerging cities, a flux of migrants from western China (mostly from the provinces of Sichuan and Hubei) seek prosperity in the richer, eastern coastal part of China. Most of the migrants end up working in construction sites. Sometimes they spend years living on the site until the building is finished. If they’re lucky (or work legally) they can live in dormitories in prefab buildings on the site. But mostly they are forced to find shelter inside the unfinished building, living in poor conditions.

An average worker earns about 2000RMB (about £180) a month, if payed. Yet, sometimes workers are not payed at all. And as most work without a contract, they have no power to claim money. Unions in China are non-existent and going to the police is out of the question because of corruption (the powerful building constructors bribe the police).

Workers don’t have proper safety gear, most of them wearing sandals (but sometimes with a helmet). Officially, accidents don’t happen. In the case of a deadly accident, the family is payed a relatively small sum. Many older people continue to work, as there is no pension. Most send money back home for their children to study.
This series focuses on living and working spaces of China’s migrant labourers and was shot in February, July and August 2009 in Xiamen (Fujian province).

Franky Verdickt