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Toys

Toy workers in China endure sweatshops and poisonous chemicals.

Image of Toys
Photo by ArtWell/Shutterstock
Area(s)
China
Sector
Factory

Factory

Worst Concerns

  • Poor health and safety

    Poor Health and Safety

  • Abusive management

    Abusive Management

  • Low wages

    Low Wages

  • Long hours.

    Long Hours

Concerns

Hundreds of thousands of young Chinese migrant workers toil away in factories making toys for major international brands. A recent report by China Labor Watch (CLW) exposed dozens of violations in four factories that make toys for Mattel, Fischer-Price, Disney, Crayola, and others. Violations included unpaid wages, lack of safety training, excessive overtime, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, and lack of fire safety.

Like electronics, toy manufacturing can also be very chemically intensive, requiring various hazardous inks, solvents, paints and phthalates (used in plastics). While potentially dangerous for consumers, these chemicals are even more dangerous for workers who are exposed on a regular basis in higher concentrations, often without safety training or protective equipment, as found by CLW. Additionally, the management in these factories can be very abusive. A worker named Hu Nianzhen killed herself in November 2014 after working at a Mattel factory for two years because of the demanding conditions of her work and the verbal abuse and threats from her superiors.

Alternatives

When purchasing new toys, buy from green and fair trade companies in Green America’s Green Business Network®. You can also find some of Green America’s favorite green toy choices of 2014.

Take Action

Sign China Labor Watch’s Change.org petition to Mattel asking it to address sweatshop conditions in its supplier factories.

Sign Stop Toying Around’s letter to Mattel demanding that the company “immediately take measures to prevent any further suicides, to reduce moral and physical pressure on the workers, and to improve the working conditions.”

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