08/04/2014, 00.00
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Jiangsu factory explosion "result of industrialists' greed'

After the tragedy, which killed at least 75 people, analysts and trade unions point the finger at the government - which allows people to overlook laws on safety in the workplace - and investors, who only care for growth and profit. A government official: "We warned of the danger, but they ignored us and we do not have the power to punish those who break the rules."

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The explosion inside a metallurgical factory in Jiangsu province, on August 2 that killed at least 75 people, could have been avoided if China had more stringent rules on the safety in the workplace. Analysts and trade unions claim that existing laws are "useless" as long as "the government fails to really apply them". 

The causes of the disaster that ravaged the Zhongrong Metal Products Kunshan - an industrial town 50 kilometers from Shanghai - are not yet clear: it is believed that an excessive accumulation of metal dust (from polishing) came into contact with an open flame. The factory manufactures parts for cars, and counts among its customers, General Motors and other major Western car manufacturers.

An official at the Administration of Work Safety told the South China Morning Post it had warned Zhongrong many times that the dusty working conditions at the plant could spark an explosion. "It's impossible for us to assign an official to supervise this company every day and we have no power to shut it down," the official, who declined to give his name, said"

According to China Labour Watch, an organization based in the United States that monitors labor conditions in China, with the appropriate equipment the disaster could have been avoided, "basic safety systems such as ventilation would avoid the accumulation of dust. This tragedy is the result of the prevailing laxity in the law on the rights of workers. "

Peter Chen, an engineer at TRW Automotive, believes the Jiangsu explosion is not and will not remain an isolated case: "In China, they think only of industrial sales and growth. The other side of the phenomenon, including the quality and safety, it is simply ignored". From January 2014 to date, according to government data, almost 2,700 people were killed in "serious" accidents.

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