What’s Going On?
Conditions in many toy factories across the world are extremely unseemly and often downright horrid. For example, in 2008, the New York Times reported that Chinese workers, often as young as 16, face some serious health hazards on the job, such as in the Pearl River Delta region near Hong Kong, where, “Factory workers lose or break about 40,000 fingers on the job every year.” A more recent undercover investigation found that huge companies such as Disney, LEGO and Marks & Spencer pay, “Only a fraction of the shop price of products to the factories that make their products.” This undercover report also found that workers were often working up to 140 hours of overtime a month, were paid up to a month late, were expected to work with dangerous tools and machines without training or safety measures, and had to work in silence and were fined up to £5 for going to the toilet without permission. Other insane policies of non-Fair Trade toy factories included separating parents from their children for a few days to a year, frequent injuries, toxic chemicals, extremely sub par factory living standards such as no water for washing and flushing toilets after 10pm, zero days off, 14 hour work days and much more. Learn more in the links below.
- Santa’s Workshop: Inside China’s Slave Labor Toy Factories
- Deterioration of Mattel’s Labor Conditions: An Investigation of Four Factories
- 8 Dates in Toy Sweatshop History
- Toys of Misery
In the USA we’re very concerned about exposing our children to lead, toxic paint, BPA and other chemicals that may harm them, but imagine what workers in toy factories are exposed to? Chemicals and toxic issues affect workers in toy factories to an alarmingly detrimental extent. For example, many workers are constantly exposed to oil-based paints, toxic solvents such as benzene, and other chemicals, and the fumes from chemicals hang in the air while almost zero safety precautions are in place. Most workers do not have access to gloves or even basic respiratory masks.
Aren’t People Just Thankful to Have Jobs?
Jobs are good, we all know that. However, the International Labor Rights Forum sums up the issue of “lucky to have any job” with the following and it makes perfect sense:
“Having a job in manufacturing or on a company farm should not mean having to be subjected to starvation wages, physical and verbal abuse, excessive overtime or a life threatening work environment. Nor should workers be deprived of the right to bargain collectively. Workers want to be treated with dignity, and expect to be able to support themselves and their families with their earnings. These conditions could easily be addressed by companies.”
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