The first Asian Mens’ Shed established in Guangzhou China has been criticised for being “too productive” by the Australian Men’s Shed Association. Men’s Shed President Merv Dobson issued a “please explain” to the Guangzhou Shed after its members reported producing 250 000 Garfield tote bags in the 3 months since the Shed started.
“Men’s Sheds are supposed to be places where men can relax and talk about their issues,” Dobson told The Asia Beat, “not a kind of sweatshop. They should be concentrating on making wooden toys children won’t play with and having patents rejected for fuel saving carburettors.”
But the Guanzhou shed overseer, Feng Yunshan hit back, “That’s how these men relax, making tote bags. And they do talk about issues. Issues like, not enough tote bags. They share their feelings about not enough tote bags all the time.”
The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia in the 1990s to promote places that men could meet and relax and talk about their problems. It has spread to New Zealand, Ireland and the UK. The Guangzhou Men’s Shed, a sprawing 40 hectare factory complex on the banks of the Pearl River, will soon be joined by a sister – or rather brother “Mega Shed” in Shenzhen in 2013.