Zhuhai Port: Interview with Field Operator Zedong Wang 王泽栋, on night shift (C100)
Cinematographer: 刘井彬 Jingbin Liu
Duration: 00:39:36; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 93.358; Saturation: 0.081; Lightness: 0.079; Volume: 0.145; Cuts per Minute: 0.101; Words per Minute: 68.027
Zhuhai International Container Terminal, Gaolan
It is still complicated, but we can deal with it simply. Can you tell me what you are going to do tonight?
Tonight, you just saw it
Regarding your job duty, do you have to communicate with other departments?
Yes. Mostly with the Central Console, also bridge drivers from the Equipment Room as well as workers from the outsource company. That's the most of it.
You work tonight, how about tomorrow?
It's like this: if we have night shift today, then we'll have a day off tomorrow, and the next day, we'll have a day shift from 8.30am to 11.00pm. It's like three shifts with two groups working at the same time.
You’re still young.
I worked here as a trainee for one year and now I've just become a formal member.
Why did you have your internship here?
The company was expanding the business one year ago and came to my school in Zhuhai city to recruit. My major is what they were looking for, and my teacher told my classmates and me to interview and I was recruited. Then I found this job not bad and kept doing it.
I see. Do you like your job?
It's hard to say. You know, it's what I majored in so the job is quite easy for me, compared with others.
In other words, are you happy here? How do you feel everyday?
Yes, I am happy. I do not like to think of any unhappy things so I always keep an optimistic attitude.
So generally speaking you like this job?
Yes, I do.
Since you started working here, have you found yourself changed?
I've got some special feelings about that. At the beginning, I needed to learn many things before I could do my job independently like tracking the liner. Actually, even now, we can't make decisions on our own. Some experienced workers have been working here for more than 10 years and even they need to consult others before taking action. At first, I just watched, learned and tried, seldom acting on my own. Gradually I made progress and now I can work on my own. You see, it has been a long process.
So it's also a process of learning.
Yes, it is. This internship lasted one year, which was quite long.
Generally speaking, your workload is quite light. So when is your busy time?
Our busiest time is when the typhoon comes, as we need to guard against it. We must bundle all the empty containers in the tower. We have to go to the worksite, decide the containers to be bundled and the sequence, and then follow up. I was a lot busier when I first came, as I was not familiar with the workers and procedures. So whenever something happened, we needed to offer help, even though sometimes it was trivial matters.
Could you give me an example?
Like we told them where the containers should be placed, but they did it wrong. For domestic trade, in fact, we are responsible for unloading the containers so they call for our help. Because many were new-comers then, just like me, so we often made mistakes. When I was a green hand, our company just started the large-scale-counter business. As we were inexperienced in this filed, we had to attend the matter personally.
Are you living on the dock?
No, I live at the urban fringe, far away from the dock.
Is it convenient to go to work?
Yes, we have regular shuttle buses every day.
How about your leisure activities?
I joined in our company basketball team. At home, I contact my schoolfellows. We'd hang out sometimes, going to the KTV, playing basketball, that sort of stuff.
Not yet, hhhh.
Now you've become a formal worker keep a stable job, will you find a girlfriend next?
Well, I haven't thought about it. But it is the time to do so. Considering my age, I should get married and have my own family in a few years.
Do your parents urge you?
No, they are not worried and allow me to do what I want.
Do you have any siblings?
I have a younger brother.
You family have got only two children, which is not a large number at your hometown, is it?
Actually, at my hometown, there are quite a few children in a family. However, at my generation they usually only have two. After all, it costs a lot to raise a child.
Because people's attitudes have changed.
Yes, it's a gradual process. People have realized the hardship of life and they can't afford to raise many children.
Let’s talk about basketball. Did you often play it at school?
Yes, I used to play it within the class, but not very well.
What position did you play?
How about your shooting average?
Not so good. I was backup and I only played when the leading players were taking a rest.
As you were not among the leading ones, did you enjoy the game?
Yes, because I enjoyed the game itself although I was not good. So I cherished every chance of playing in the field.
What do you think are the differences of getting along with your colleagues and with your fellow schoolmates?
The biggest difference is that, it’s quite easy to get along well with your schoolmates. Because, when you don't study, you just hang out with them and have fun. But it's a different story with colleagues. Due to our timetable, we don't have much time at home and we can only hang out after work. So it takes longer for us to get familiar with each other.
Do you have any close workmates?
We four people of the same shift are close and also the fellows of the supervisor office. As for other people, I don't know them well, except my alumni.
There are few female fellows at the port, is that so?
That's true. I only know several female operators. Female workers are usually in charge of typing and working attendance, stuff like that. The Financial Department or HR Department have got the most women staff.
Are they treated well there?
Maybe. I don't know much about it. I work on the worksite.
Are you from Guangdong Province?
I'm from Shantou, Chaozhou-Shantou region, Guangdong Province.
What’s the difference between your hometown and here?
The eating habit is the most different. The food may share the same name but taste different. People at my hometown are particular about food but here, people just feed themselves with food. My hometown is famous for its Chaoshan Beef Ball, with which the beef balls here can't compare.
How many days do you work per week?
7 hours per day and six days in total.
So you have 7-hour workdays and 6 working days for one week.
Roughly speaking, yes.
That's 42 hours for one week?
It depends on the schedule. It may be below or above 42 hours, like 47 or 48 hours.
Once I went past Chaozhou and then Shantou by train. I saw various ceramics factory one after another.
That's Fengxi. Have you seen the mugs of Starbucks? On the label it shows that it’s made in Fengxi. I got one in Chengdu.
There's a town in Chaozhou where many ceramics factories are located.
Indeed. My hometown has many factories of toy and underwear. There are many woolen sweater factories near my home.
It's all about clothing.
I know that place. It's in Chaonan District. We liked to go to the Qiaoxi Beef Store there. I found their beef inexpensive.
Is there a basketball game on the 19th of this month?
I'm not sure, I remember that there are games in the next two days.
They will take part in the basketball game tonight and President Chen said that it is within our Corporation.
There is also a game on Thursday. It will be held in Zhuhai International Port of Houwei. The competition is between the Gaoran Branch and Jiuzhou Branch. Although Jiuzhou Branch moved this year but the game will be held as usual.
Not really. It is pre-scheduled. The three-shift-and-two-group working system, remember?
So this is a game between brother branches.
Will you go back home tomorrow? You must be tired after work.
Yes. The night shift is indeed very exhausting. So sometimes we'll take a nap at night.
It must be very tiring even after work at home. You have to sleep through the day off until night. Am I right?
Not necessarily. Occasionally I've got things to do, like tomorrow I need to go downtown and have a physical examination, which is required by the commander position today. Tomorrow after work I will go home and sleep. I will go downtown if there's still some time after I get up. One day will pass like that.
It seems that it's good to work on the dock.
It's relatively good on the dock.
Why? Because it's not very hard?
The guys working at the Central Console are the busiest.
When I called them yesterday morning and noon, they were so busy that they had to talk on the interphone while communicating with me on the phone.
Yes, they need to hold their nerves all the time, and take immediate action once notified.
And they must make fast response. If any link stops, they need to deal with it right away.
They are used to it.
I think the hardest job is the director on board. They work on board, unloading the containers.
What I said is only within our company. The laborers and directors on board do the hardest job and they are contracted. In the scope of the whole dock, the laborers are the most exhausted ones. Now we operate with a prerequisite that if they do something wrong we'll issue a violation writ against them. But usually we won't do so if they can solve the problem. As you can see, they do the toughest job and we don't have the heart to do so.
Are they in the orange uniform?
Yes. And there is also the green uniform. They belong to different companies.
So there are several companies here, right?
Yes. Only in the command center are two companies, and there are two for the trailers and two for the factory vehicles. In sum, there are about 5 or 6 companies here.
But you often chat together in this room, like the one I just interviewed, are you with the same company?
No, he is with another one, the one with the green uniform, named Jinhuafu.
Is he a director?
Yes, he is.
I thought you are with the same company as you are often together.
Yes, we are close, and it’s convenient for work. For example, the on-site dispatching may be difficult if people in charge don't get along with the laborers. Someone may complain. But we get along well, so it's fine if they need to do some extra work.
They are willing to cooperate.
yes, they are.
I just heard on the intercom channel from the interphone that the two people at the dragon crane seemed to be quarrelling. They sounded a bit harsh.
Because blue-collar workers often work with a loud voice and a violent temper. But they are just talking loudly and complaining, which brings no harm. They respect each other at heart. Sometimes I enjoy this kind of atmosphere.
Is it because most of them are male and it’s their way of doing things?
Yes. Usually they quarrel with someone today and forget about it tomorrow. No hard feelings.
Is it easy to find a girlfriend for people like you, working at the dock?
If you have just graduated, then it’s not that hard. But after several years, it becomes much harder.
Then why didn't you find one at school?
I didn’t meet the right one.
How many girls have you ever chased before？
2 or 3 I guess, in my college life.
And you were rejected by all of them?
Yes, in a polite way, lol
Sometimes when girls said no, they were just expecting more efforts from you.
I met one, but I failed her.
Do you take it seriously when dating?
I used to. But my career matters most now. I won't stay long in the current company. It is hard to get promoted here so I will hunt for other jobs .
But you've learned a lot here.
Yes, I've learned a lot from my working experience.
Will you look for similar jobs? Like working on the dock?
If so, I will go back to Shantou.
There are large docks in Shantou, right?
Yes, but smaller than here.
But I think there are more docks in Shantou.
Zhuhai also has a lot small docks but are of small scale. It's the same in Shantou. But I can take care of my parents if I go back home.
I mean do you want to change to a different type of work?
Not sure yet. We are quite satisfied with this job in Zhuhai, comparing with people of the same educational background. We get properly paid and are not too busy. But young people need to work with drive.
Most of you doing dispatching works are from Guangdong Province. But people in the outsourcing companies are migrant workers from other provinces, like what we see these days, right?
It's probably true. We have 2 groups of outsourcing workers…more than 2 groups. One group is local, from Wuhua and Meizhou city. Then they hired numbers of people from other places and we still call them "Wuhua" for there were so many people from Wuhua at first. We even name the dock company as "Wuhua". The other group is from Hunan province. That foreman is from Hunan and his brother is a boss of the company there. So, there are a large number of workers from Hunan. And we have a fleet from the northern part of China. They like eating noodles and bread.
Actually the hierarchy is headed by a contractor.
Yes, and he will take a group of people from his hometown with him.
He came with 3 or 5 people at first. But later on, his relatives and neighbors all came for a job. So the workers are mostly from the same place as the contractor. There is no fixed type of job for them.
Many dispatchers and drivers are locals and are from Guangdong Province. They settled down here and then found this job. During the port-opening period, at first they were regarded as migrants not natives. Gradually they settled down, got registered with local identity and became natives here.
So in this cases we can see groups of people from different places. Can you distinguish their accent and know where they are from?
Most machine operators are from nearby places.
Do we have any fellows from Chaozhou or Shantou City at the port?
I barely meet any from these two cities these years. It is said that a few years ago, when the port was just opened, there were seven or eight managers from that region. 90% of the management were from there. Many fellows from Chaozhou-Shantou region come here for work. I meet fewer of them now. Maybe later there will be more. We may hire several interns from that region in the future.
Will they come to work here if they have a choice?
They flooded out of that region in the past. Now they have gone back.
Shantou is similar to Guangzhou and Zhuhai, which are prosperous and beautiful. But I prefer it to Guangzhou for its good environment along the coast.
Its environment must be better than that of Guangzhou. But it is polluted by people's bad behavior. Our hometown is the Special Econonic Zone after the reform and opening up and concentrate on economic development without dealing with pollution. Shantou's pollution is relatively serious compared with elsewhere in Guangdong. On the contrary, Zhuhai is environment-oriented and I prefer Zhuhai with its agreeable developing environment.
But it is odd I don't get diarrhea or feel sick in Shantou.
Because coastal waters are not seriously polluted. Instead, Shantou suffers severe land pollution. You can see that the river turned black out of pollution.
Yes, I see quite a few factories nearby and they post a lot of...
Zhuhai has numbers of factories, but less supply of goods, so many of our docks serve as transfer stations. Shantou enjoys rich supply of goods, so products there can be shipped directly from the port. But there are less liners in Shantou, so I heard some products are made in Yantian Port of Shenzhen and batches of goods from Shantou are transported to Shenzhen to be exported.
Because Shantou has less liners and it's not far from Shenzhen.
Yes, it just takes five or six hours to get there.