News Summary: Locked doors signal safety failings

News Summary: Locked doors at torched plant show little changed for many Chinese workers

Associated Press

LOCKED DOORS: The similarities between the two worst factory fires in China's history —the poultry plant fire that killed 119 people Monday and a toy-factory blaze that left 87 workers dead 20 years earlier — suggest that little has changed for industrial workers as the country's economy transformed.

SAFETY CONDITIONS: Workers said exits at the poultry plant were locked to secure the property and to keep them from stepping outside for breaks. That was a violation of China's workplace safety laws, but watchdogs say those laws are often vague, enforcement is lax and industrialists are often linked in a web of corruption and cronyism with local bureaucrats.

LITTLE POWER: Chinese workers have little power to demand safety improvements because they cannot effectively unionize. China has only one official Communist Party-controlled trade union, which works closely with officials and company management.

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