On November 18 a young woman was spotted on the streets of Shenzhen City in Guangdong, China carrying a sign which read: “Overnight and overtime work has made me into an old lady. Both my love and work lives are miserable. I request approval for workers’ compensation.”

It was an unusual yet straightforward demand that triggered debate and reflection on the state of working conditions in the country.

According to local media, the 25-year-old woman claims that working long hours and sometimes going without sleep have taken a toll on her physically. She says that this has led to rapid aging which she compares to a work related injury.

Lawyers interviewed by the media say that her claims would not be covered in workers’ compensation regulations, and she most likely would not get approval. However, they also point out that her actions are indicative of an increasing awareness of workers’ rights in Chinese society.

This can be seen online in China where many discussions on her protests have taken place. Comments range from support to derision.

“I support her.”
“What a joke.”
“If things are going so badly she should just change jobs.”
“In China, any factory that doesn’t have overtime will soon become a bankrupt factory.”
“Maybe it was nature that did it to her.”
“There is no doubt that long overtime is unhealthy. Society should pay more attention to this!”

Although she will probably not be granted workers’ comp for her “rapid aging,” her logic doesn’t seem that far-fetched really. She is engaging in a type of work that poses a risk to her health much like if she were handling hazardous materials or in a dangerous environment. In the end, it had an adverse affect on her quality of life.

Too bad she doesn’t live in the USA where the lawyer ecosystem is much lusher. Someone out there surely would have loved to champion a case like this. It would have been tough though since according to pictures she really doesn’t look so old. She just kind of looks tired and pissed-off.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News via Toychan
Top image: YouTube/Bb Yang