YANG REN BIN: I’m going to tell you the best dream I ever had. It’s about my son. In my dream, we were living together at home, my wife, my son and I, as we used to do when he was a child. He was a naughty child because his grandparents pampered him a lot. I didn’t have a good relationship with him. Now, when I call him up on the telephone, he doesn’t want to talk to me. But in my dream, we were happy together. He was listening to what my wife and I were saying; he was studying and doing well at school. That felt good. He did everything we asked him to do; he didn’t listen to his grandparents. We took him to town and had a great time together.
I got married in 1996 and our child was born in 1998. I used to work in a factory; I started there in 1993. I’m a carver. There was always a lot of dust in the factory, but we weren’t wearing any protection. We were just migrant workers, we didn’t really pay any attention to things like wearing a mask, and neither did our employers.
I worked in this factory from 1993 to 1996. That was in Haifeng. Then, in 1997, the factory moved to Huizhou. I got married in 1996. After the marriage, I stayed at home for a month, then I went back to work at the factory. In 2004, the factory moved back to Haifeng. At that time I noticed that something was wrong with my lungs. I went to the hospital several times, I even went to hospitals in other provinces, for example in Sichuan and Guangzhou. All the doctors told me that my problems had to do with the dust. After an examination in 2005, the doctor told me I had lung fibrosis, which is an increase and thickening of the lung tissue. He said the fibrosis was caused by the dust.
So I went to the factory and told them there was something wrong with my lungs. They sent me for another medical examination. I didn’t see the results of that examination, but the factory must have known that it was because of the dust. On September 5, 2005, they fired me on some random excuse. I went back to Sichuan to have another examination. This time they said I had silicosis. I sued the factory for compensation but I lost.
The factory didn’t accept the result of the examination from the hospital in Sichuan. So in 2008, I had another examination at Guangdong Hospital and they said the same thing: I had silicosis. I wanted to use this result against the factory in another lawsuit, but the case was rejected again. They said there’s a clause in the law, which says you can only file a claim for industrial injury up to two years after leaving the job. And I had left the job in 2005 because they fired me. That was a big problem. So then I tried to sue the factory for unfair dismissal, arguing they shouldn’t have fired me because the dust had caused my lung disease. But I had no success; both the factory and the government were against me.
Now I’m going to court against the Labour Bureau. All these legal proceedings are very complicated and painful, especially for migrant workers like us, because many people look down on us. My biggest dream is to get some money out of all this and share it with my wife and my son.