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26 Feb 2015

China: Labour rights abuses in toy factories supplying major brands - companies respond

In November 2014, the NGO China Labor Watch (CLW) published a report "Investigations on Toy Suppliers in China: Workers are Still Suffering" which alleged that toy factories producing for brands such as Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, Crayola (part of Hallmark) and other companies were exploiting workers.

Concerns included mandatory overtime, wages below the legal minimum, unpaid overtime wages, unpaid insurance, harsh and high-pressure working conditions, poor living conditions, and abusive management.

The following month, China Labor Watch Executive Director Li Qiang stated in testimony to a Congressional Hearing that:

...the violations identified "suggest that labor conditions have failed to improve in toy industry supplier factories over the past seven years. And relative to other industries [such as electronics], conditions may even be deteriorating."

The report notes that toy companies tend to divide their orders among dozens of factories, so that “their orders in any given factory only consists of a small proportion of that factory’s total orders—usually no more than 20%”.  China Labor Watch alleges that this gives companies the ability to absolve themselves from any responsibility for poor labour conditions.

CLW also alleges that the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI)’s certification process is ineffective, noting that factories can easily obtain official certification without complying with Chinese law or the ICTI’s code of practice.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited companies named in the report to respond.  Below are responses by Lung Cheong Group, Mattel, Disney, Target, and also the International Council of Toy Industries.  We have also contacted Zhang Jia Bian Enterprise Group 张家边企业集团 for a response and are continuing to follow up.

Company Responses

Mattel View Response
Walt Disney View Response
Target View Response
ICTI (Intl. Council of Toy Industries) CARE View Response