I visited our leather goods makers this June, and caught up with Gen, a long time employee there. I've met her each time I've visited, and she's always doing a million things - paper work, hand stitching, organising staff. She's a whirlwind!
How long have you been working here?
I've been here for 20 years!
What did you do when you first started here?
I was in the packing department, and when stock comes in I would record and check it. Also looking at what kind of product is going out.
How many people were working here when you started?
There were 800 workers.
Wow it’s changed a lot!
Yes! (Now there are about 30)
What did you do after the packing department?
Then I went on to be a sample room assistant, sometimes stitching bags, counting costings and stocktaking.
And now what is your role – everything?
I follow up documents, samples, production and purchasing materials and fittings.
You’ve been here a long time - what has kept you here so long?
Because the boss so nice! George looks after us like his children. Many collegues have stayed at the factory for these reasons. (I joked that it’s not just because the boss is standing right there and we all laughed)
Did you move here from somewhere else in China?
I come from far away from here, 450 kms. To go back to my home town is about 5 hours.
Did you come here to find work? Or did your family move here?
To find a job. 20 years ago it was very hard to get a job – China had just opened up.
Your family were farmers?
Do your parents still do that?
Yes they do!
What do they farm?
They farm rice, vegetables, potatoes and lychees!
What area of China is that in?
It is still in Dong Guan area, the western part of Dong Guan. My home town called Mao Ming.
You’ve been here a long time, have you had a family here?
I have 2 children - a son who is 14 and daughter who is 10 years old – both still in school.
Where do you live?
I live with my family in the domestic building that is offered to long term older workers and their families - there are about 9 apartments.
What do you enjoy most about working here?
Working here is like family – I know most of the parts of the business now. It’s not hard for me.
What did you do when your children were small? How did you juggle work and raising them?
When they were small, I hired a helper, and sometime they went to kindergarden. And rather than work day times, I would work evenings which made taking care of them easier. Now days, my husband takes care of the children because their school is close by his workplace.
What are your dreams for the future?
I want to save enough money to go back to my home town to build a house and so that my children have a better future. If they study late secondary school and university in Guangzhou, we must buy an apartment here, due to the local planning laws. Once they reach later high school age the children need to return to our home village to continue their study.
Are you able to send your children to primary school here in Dong Guan?
Yes primary school is ok. My 14 year old has just returned to my home town to continue study.
You must miss him!
Sure! My son comes to visit during holidays. When my daughter is ready to start high school we will all move back to our home town together.
Thanks for chatting with us Gen!