Workers at a Hong Kong-owned factory in Shenzhen where a man died, allegedly from exhaustion, claim they are pressured into working when ill. Xu Zhangshui, 23, died in his sleep on December 27. Colleagues said he died of exhaustion after being forced to work overtime shifts of 14 hours a day with only half a day off each week. Xu suffered tuberculosis, but colleagues said he would not have died so young had he not been overworked. The death of Xu at the Four Seas Handbag Factory has highlighted working conditions in mainland factories owned by Hong Kong companies. The Christian Industrial Committee recently completed a study which showed many such factories were overworking and underpaying employees. Four Seas workers told the South China Morning Post last week that they could not refuse to work overtime because the company would deduct money from their salary. 'Even when we're ill, we have to work overtime. Otherwise they deduct $25 from you if you take half a day off and $50 for a full day,' said a woman who had worked there since May. 'We only earn $500 a month with 100 hours of overtime. 'After sitting at the sewing machine for hours, my eyes would turn red, my head would hurt and I would feel dizzy.' Packaging and loading workers like Xu were paid $10 a day. Sewing workers earned $1.50 an hour and $2.30 for every hour of overtime. 'People who want to quit can't just walk out, because they pay us 25 days late. They have a quota of how many people they would allow to quit each month and, once they meet that quota, they won't give you your money so you can't leave,' another worker said. The committee's executive secretary, Shek Ping-kwan, said: 'That's against the law. They're not supposed to withhold salary. And the minimum wage for Shenzhen is $430 per month without overtime. 'Workers also cannot be forced to work more than 38 hours of overtime each month.' The factory employs 200 workers. Its owners, a couple surnamed Chow, declined to comment. But factory manager and a relative of the couple, Li Weiguang, said last week Xu died of tuberculosis. Mr Li said the amount of overtime was not a lot different from other factories in the Shawei Industrial District, where Four Seas is located. The factory's owners this month paid $50,000 as compensation to Xu's relatives following mediation by mainland authorities. Mr Li denied workers had pay deducted for refusing to work overtime. 'There's no such thing,' he said, but refused to comment further. After the death, the Shenzhen Labour Department warned the owners to stop overworking staff, workers said. The company has since reduced the working day from 14 hours to 12, including the 90-minute lunch break, they said. Instead of starting work at 7.30am and getting off work at 11pm, they now leave work at 9pm. However, workers said they believed the reprieve only temporary.