My nanny and I were like watching the documentary "The American Factory". Although I didn't understand automobile glass manufacturing, I could still feel the sadness and joy of the workers. The individual destiny was so small and fragile under capital and policies.
In previous years, after September, the peak season for electronic cigarettes is coming. Those friends will be preparing for the coming Christmas. Many customers of Shajing Electronic Cigarette Factory come from abroad, and Christmas is undoubtedly the most special festival to be celebrated. But this year is abnormal.
(Related report "China's" Mist Valley "Overwintering-E-cigarettes to Dark Hours, Industries and Workers Before the New Year", first published in "Southern Weekend" on December 5, 2019)
In late November 2019, I came to Shajing, Shenzhen, which is a rather peaceful place in Shenzhen. Taxi drivers are reluctant to come. Before I arrived, I scolded me. I don't smoke e-cigarettes, but I'm still curious about the cold winter that e-cigarettes are going through. I believe that in a country with a developed manufacturing industry, various industries under the huge industrial system have similarities. Just like watching the documentary "American Factory", although I don't understand automobile glass manufacturing, I can still feel the sadness and joy of the workers. The individual destiny is so small and fragile under capital and policies.
Some people in the industry told me that in the past years, after September, the peak season for electronic cigarettes was coming. Those friends will be preparing for the coming Christmas. Many customers of Shajing Electronic Cigarette Factory come from abroad, and Christmas is undoubtedly the most special festival to be celebrated. But this year is abnormal. Orders have fallen sharply after September.
"Blames Trump's policies." Most people complained. Trump announced e-cigarettes, and many states in the United States have banned them. The one-paper policy brings the winter.
My interview starts with a business owner. It was a coincidence to find Bao Wei-I heard that there are many electronic cigarette offices in the center of Shajing, and I ran through several office buildings. There is a new couplet on the door of Bao Wei's company, which seems to have just opened. When I entered the door, the people inside told me that Bao Wei "just moved away today." But I still saw traces left by Bao Wei in this office: many imported e-liquids were stacked by the shelves at the door. We contacted Bao Wei, and Bao Wei said that these e-liquids now have to find a way to get rid of them by friends and trading companies.
Bao Wei's experience is typical. He runs a small e-cigarette company with 6 technicians and 30 workers. Originally only for foreign markets, some states in the United States have banned the sale of electronic cigarettes and then turned to the domestic market. However, within two months, domestic policies were introduced and online sales channels were blocked. Successive blows forced him to make a choice: cut half of the technicians and workers, and move office offices back to the factory to save high rents. The vacant office space in the office building is part of the "cold winter".
Bao Wei is not the worst. I heard more stories. For example, a small business owner lost 90% of his orders, and a company with a few hundred employees had only three. The story of "one boss and two soldiers" is not uncommon in Shajing. Ou Junbiao's factory does research and development as well as production and pulls business. It has laid off a lot of workers. The owner of another large factory said half-jokingly, "Don't make any more in your factory, and place your order with us."
Sheng, the owner of cotton and heating wire, also felt anxious. The original monthly order of 500,000 to 600,000 yuan has become 50,000 to 60,000 yuan. He just decided to expand his business at the end of last year. In the first half of this year, he rented a large office heavily, but the storm came. His office is in an industrial park, and he told me that in the first few evenings, he would walk around the park, round and round, from dusk to midnight. Walking and feeling bored, I called the parents of my hometown in Hunan and wept after making the call. However, on the phone he reported good news without worrying, "they didn't understand it when he said it."
As a supplier's success, there are about two hundred partners, both large and small. The quality of e-cigarettes produced in more than 200 factories varies. When cooperating with large companies and big brands, there will be some foreign institutions that specialize in inspections. When cooperating with small companies, there is not so much attention and inspection. Today, his partners also have very different destinies. Capable business owners reluctantly support them, while those who do not have the ability to evacuate quickly. Some small companies that used to receive goods by express delivery have already closed.
I also want to talk to workers. The manufacturing hub is pouring into a "novelty" industry, but it still relies on intensive labor. People in the industry say that the degree of automation of the e-cigarette production line is not so high. Many workers are still needed, and the policies of the day and night affect the fate of many people. But I encountered some difficulties. I chased after these workers, and they were careful. I couldn't ask anything richer. I guess they might tie their lives to the factory, fearing that I would write negative news about the factory. Later, I found out that it might be that I did not get close enough. I squatted at the door of the factory with them, ate together, ate steamed buns for 2 yuan, fast food for 6 yuan, and spent time together after meals and overtime. There are always a few people who are willing to tell their own stories.
There are not many exchanges between workers and workers, and most of the time they work hard. Female worker Chen Fang told me that she could only name a few people on the 20-person production line. Xiaowen was pulled off. Compared with physical fatigue, he felt tired. Many workers are full of suffocation after repeated work day after day, often with one hand too tired to lift, complainers often. He will arrange for the workers to change jobs and take turns to do one thing to prevent the same posture for a long time. Sometimes when assembling a battery, the material sent by a supplier is missing, and the vice-pull will have to run to communicate with the person responsible for the material. Running three or four times a day is too tired. This is the job of communication.
Every job is the same, they don't know where the product in hand will go. Occasionally when they are foundry for some brands, they can see the brand's logo before they know which factory they serve as a small screw in the foundry. A strong feeling is coming, the fate of these ordinary workers are connected as a whole, but the individual life is isolated and everyone is like an ant. Most people don't understand each other.
If you want to know more about them, you have to go to the talent market. Chatting with the person in charge of the talent market, I got new feelings, or corrected some of the previous ones. Although general workers are also experiencing turbulence, they may choose more opportunities for change than business owners or engineers. They have less, so they will not be afraid to lose. All they can invest in is their cheap, less technical, day-to-day labor, but they also gain a part of their lightness. Even this lightness is sad. The iterative industry, the flowing workers, manholes are not short of work. This industry is not working, and they will replace one. It's like a leaf that swirls, turns, and drifts forward.
The documentary "American Factory" shows people the opposite of American workers compared to Chinese workers. They only work 8-hour shifts a day, work easily and not, and pay attention to safety, but at the same time inefficient and casual, making it difficult for companies to make a profit. And what about Chinese workers? Eager to work overtime, if there is no stable overtime, leave in a hurry and bear the burden of the house and family.
Soaked in manhole for more than a week. The manhole is under construction and it is lively, but if you touch the inside of the electronic cigarette industry, you can find that the steaming scene is gradually dissipating. Courier, salesperson, and online store sales, many more people in this industry chain are affected. A courier left a message after reading my article: "Obviously, the customers who usually send 200 tickets a day now only have 20 votes. They were bought by old WeChat customers. My salary changed from 30,000 to 1 I don't know how long I can do it. "
The safety of e-cigarettes has not yet existed, but industries lacking standards and regulation will inevitably have mixed strengths. And what I want to do is, maybe, after stripping away these unsafe issues such as safety and health, pay attention to the people who are floating in the industry, make a zero-degree record, record them crying, but also record that they laugh, they are fragile There is also a light side in the times, but this bears a heavier weight.