To understand the plight of the average Segment 07 resident, look no further than the factory courtyards. Veiled in acrid pollution that billows from the factory smokestacks, people line up by the thousands. Jobs are offered on a first come, first served basis. Though it may be hours or days before their next chance to work, most have little choice but to wait. While a shift may only buy a a day or two of food, it’s better than nothing.
The Birth of the Factory Courtyards
Since the conclusion of the great war, Segment 07 has become vastly overpopulated. As the population has increased, factory owners have been quick to take advantage of residents as a source of cheap labor. This plentiful labor and the segment’s close proximity to the Transport Hub have lead to an industrial boom on the Northeast side of the segment.
Those looking for work gather in the large, open area known as the factory courtyard. Workers are chosen before each shift, and their employment lasts only until the start of the next. Due to the high demand and low availability, lines for work can be hundreds of people long with waits lasting several days. To deal with the wait, many erect makeshift shelters and setup almost nomadic residences amidst the courtyard lines.
A single person will generally only land work once or twice per week depending on the job. As such, large families have a distinct advantage in regards to earning potential. While individual pay may be meager, a family of ten may find themselves with twenty shifts worth of income between them in a single week. As there are no laws or regulations regarding age, many families put their children to work as early as possible to exploit this.
Those who make it to adulthood intact are rare, and having a family is often seen as a kind of retirement. As a result, families are started early, and children are born as often as possible. The more children a family can have, the more workers they can field.
Due to the lack of regulations and concern for safety, accidents in the factories are common. The resulting and depressingly common deaths lead to a high number of orphans. Many of these orphans are young, have nobody else to turn to, and end up in the factory lines themselves. For all but the luckiest and the strongest, this is a death sentence.