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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Issue 3. 15th March [1976]

Factory Workers in Chains

Factory Workers in Chains

The factories were depressing places. We saw cottage type industries, where even young girls aged 10 years were sitting and making umbrellas behind shops and on the side of the road. They worked at top speed with no rest and their financial return was laughable - 5 baht or 0.25c (NZ) per day.

Other women were carving or varnishing wood and embroidering dresses for about 16 baht - 90c NZ. This was a little over what it cost for a meal for a family per day.

The most miserable place was locally owned pottery factory in Chiengmai. Here both men and women were working in a dull dreary shed with little air and scarcely enough space to move around.

They worked 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. The factory had been going for 4 years and although the workers had been promised a holiday, they had not had one day off in 4 years.

When I asked a girl of about 16 years if she belonged to any union which could make the employer keep his contract, she abruptly replied that 'unions are just a waste of time - they do no good at all.' She was reluctant to expand on this, due possibly to the fact that if her employer found out that she was sympathetic to unions, she would be out on the streets.

Unions have therefore very little effect. Her wages were only 16 baht - 90c NZ - per day, and her job was making pottery mugs which were sold at about 100% mark-up in the tourist shop attached to the factory. She had may more years of this to look forward to. If she prostested alone she could do nothing.

It [unclear: appears] [unclear: then] [unclear: that] unite with men to change structures within their society which oppress the whole people.

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[unclear: Student] [unclear: out] even at primary school, but once in [unclear: ondary] schools, the ratio drops [unclear: significant of] about 2:1.

Only if [unclear: as] wealthy parents can one afford [unclear: go to rsity] and even for some of the [unclear: women versity], jobs are difficult to find.

[unclear: Many however], who have had little [unclear: education] and find employment, are forced into [unclear: one of most] degrading and oppressive [unclear: profesionat of that] of being a prostitute. There [unclear: they are ed] as being sexual commodities. [unclear: for there] is no choice but to starve, or [unclear: ell these.] Even though in Japan, for [unclear: example] are laws prohibiting such [unclear: treatment of en], the economic situation does not [unclear: allow sclors] to be practiced.

[unclear: No on deny] therefore the oppressive [unclear: conution en] in Asia, even though men suffer [unclear: from lomic] exploitation, and are strangled [unclear: high ployment] and poor conditions, the [unclear: women] is worse.

[unclear: How he] conference unamimously agreed [unclear: that it was] men who were the main problem [unclear: out the y] which created such a disparity [unclear: between and] poor as to lead to the wealthy [unclear: sing i] to rip-off the poor, who are [unclear: themajorty].

[unclear: Women ist] therefore fight for national liberation men as well as organise themselves [unclear: or flight eir] own emancipation.

[unclear: The trungles] are so intertwined that one without the other, thus seeing [unclear: spects] of the same cause. It is struggle that women will assert [unclear: lly] as human beings, show their [unclear: uire] self confidence, gain respect [unclear: pate] themselves.