Comment lutter contre les accidents du travail en Chine  ?

Après une gigantesque explosion de gaz qui a tué 243 personnes dans le sud-ouest de la Chine en décembre dernier, le Conseil des affaires d'Etat et l'Assemblée populaire nationale ont annoncé une nouvelle réglementation sur la sécurité industrielle. La réaction des autorités se déroule selon un scénario familier : une catastrophe suivie de proclamations grandiloquentes, avant de revenir à l'habituelle inobservation des règles fondamentales de sécurité. Mais si l'on en croit l'expérience des pays occidentaux, édicter des mesures de sécurité ne suffira pas à protéger les travailleurs chinois. Seuls le développement des institutions voulues permettra d'améliorer leur sécurité.

Le nombre de catastrophes industrielles majeures qui frappent la Chine et d'autres pays asiatiques en développement bat tous les records. Officiellement, il y a eu 14.675 décès consécutifs à des accidents du travail en Chine en 2003, mais il est notoirement connu que ces statistiques ne sont pas fiables et certains observateurs estiment que leur nombre réel est proche de 120.000.

Les mines de charbon chinoises sont parmi les lieux de travail les plus dangereux de la planète. Les usines de vêtements ont connu des catastrophes à répétition, comparables à l'incendie tristement célèbre de la Triangle Shirtwaist Company à New-York, il y a un siècle, qui a coûté la vie à 146 jeunes ouvrières.

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