Living Style of Chinese Railroad Workers


Living Style of Chinese Railroad Workers

“Chinese are faithful and industrious and, under proper supervision, some become skillful in the performance of their duty. Many of them are becoming very expert in drilling, blasting and other departments of rock work.” – S. S. Montague, chief engineer of railroad, said in his annual report in 1865.

Hours of work went from sunrise to sunset, six days a week. The initial wages of Chinese workers were set at one dollar a day or twenty-six dollars a month, minus thirteen dollars for their rations. Later, they received thirty dollars and finally thirty-five dollars per month. They ate better-balanced meals unlike their white counterparts, including dried oysters, abalone, and cuttlefish, dried bamboo sprouts and mushrooms, five kinds of vegetables, pork, poultry, vermicelli, rice, salted cabbage, dried seaweed, sweet rice crackers, sugar, four kinds of dried fruit, Chinese bacon, peanut oil, and tea. Most importantly, the Chinese drank tepid tea, which they kept in whisky barrels or powder kegs suspended from each end of a bamboo pole and brought to work site. They also avoided alcohol and kept themselves clean, preventing the spread of germs.

Furthermore, even the 1867 Chinese workers strike impressed the railroad management, Charles Crocker commented that “if there had been that number of whites in a strike, there would have been murder and drunkenness and disorder, but with the Chinese it was just like Sunday; no violence was perpetuated along the whole line.” Generally, the Superintendent Strobridge expressed that the Chinese workers were “the best in the world. They learn quickly, do not fight, have no strikes that amount to anything, and are very cleanly in their habits. They will gamble, and do quarrel among themselves most noisily – but harmlessly,” which was quite the opposite of his initial sentiments.

中國鐵路工人的生活狀況

“中國人很忠實,也很努力,在正確的監督下,他們會熟練的完成任務。很多人成爲了鑽孔、爆破、和其他有關開鑿岩石方面工作的的專家。” — 首席鐵路工程師S.S. 蒙塔古在他1865年的年報中如是說道。

工人們每天從日出開始工作,一直到日落下班,每週工作六天。工資最初被設定為每天1美元,或者每月26美元,其中還要減去13美元的伙食費。後來,他們每月能拿到30美元,最後拿到每月35美元。華工的一日三餐通常比白人同伴搭配得更加均衡,他們會吃曬幹的牡蠣、鮑魚、墨魚、曬乾的竹筍和蘑菇、五種蔬菜、豬肉、家禽、粉絲、大米、雪菜、干海藻、甜米棒、糖、四種風乾水果、中國的臘肉、花生油、和茶葉。最重要的是,中國人喜歡喝溫水泡的茶,於是他們就把泡好的茶水裝在威士忌酒桶或者是火藥桶裡面,用扁擔運送到工作的地方。同時,華工從不喝酒,讓自己保持乾淨,從而遠離細菌的蔓延。

另外,即使1867年華工的罷工影響了鐵路公司的管理,查爾斯•克羅克評論道:“如果有相同數量的白人罷工,那將會出現謀殺,酒醉,和動亂,但是華工的罷工就像是度過一個星期天;沒有持續的暴力行為出現。” 總督斯特羅布裡奇表示,中國勞工是“世界上最好的勞工。他們學東西很快,不打架爭鬥,罷工也只是輕描淡寫,又沒有不良習慣。他們賭博,也相互大聲爭吵,但是都不具有傷害性,” 這些都和他最初的觀點正好相反。