¿Puede haber seguridad en la industria china?

Después de una enorme explosión de gas en la que murieron 243 personas en el sureste de China en diciembre pasado, el Consejo de Estado y el Congreso Popular Nacional de China han anunciado nuevas reglas para la seguridad industrial. La respuesta de las autoridades sigue un patrón que ya es familiar: después de los grandes pronunciamientos a raíz de los desastres laborales se cae en el descuido de los estándares de seguridad básicos. Pero si nos guiamos por la experiencia occidental, las respuestas ad hoc ante tasas altas de accidentes de trabajo no reducirá los riesgos para los trabajadores chinos. Lo único que contribuirá a que los lugares de trabajo en China sean más seguros es el desarrollo de instituciones legales básicas.

China y otras economías asiáticas en desarrollo están experimentando una crisis de accidentes industriales de proporciones mundiales e históricas. Las fuentes oficiales informan que en 2003 hubo 14,675 muertes por accidentes industriales en China, pero las estadísticas en este ámbito son muy poco confiables, y algunos observadores sugieren que la cifra real podría acercarse a las 120,000.

Las minas de carbón del país están entre los lugares de trabajo más peligrosos del mundo. En repetidas ocasiones, las fábricas de ropa han sufrido desastres comparables al incendio de la Triangle Shirtwaist de Nueva York de hace un siglo, donde murieron 146 trabajadoras, todas ellas jóvenes.

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