The deceased bodies of at least 35 out of 41 missing Chinese construction workers have now been found, after a massive landslide hit a hydropower construction site in China’s Fujian Province early on Sunday morning. Over 600 people and dozens of excavators have been working to dig through the debris and locate the workers, hindered by higher-than-usual rainfall amidst the worst El Nino weather pattern in two decade.
The construction site was an extension of the existing Chitan hydropower station, and is being built by two subsidiaries of Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering and construction company. Construction on the site began in November last year and the dam was expected to become operational in August 2017, however this tragic event will likely slow that schedule significantly.
Sinohydro is a major supplier of hydropower construction services to countries across the world, particularly in Africa and Latin America. It has a very poor record in terms of workers' rights, and has been responsible for horrific environmental impacts and poor community consultation. It was chosen at BWI’s World Congress Meeting in 2013 as a key campaigning target. Sinohydro has operated in 62 countries, and BWI affiliate unions in a number of countries have signed collective agreements with the company, including in Kenya (KBCTFIEU) and Uganda (UBCCECAWU).
“We already know that Chinese multinational companies and state authorities have a very poor record in terms of industrial accidents and health and safety,” said BWI General-Secretary Ambet Yuson. “And, with a warming climate and increasingly frequent extreme weather patterns, this trend is likely to get worse. Whether it is in China, or at one of Sinohydro’s other international operations, it is always the workers that suffer the most from these tragedies."
"Sinohydro must do more to ensure the safety of its workers."