Working Conditions Still Poor for China’s Factory Workers, Says Watchdog Organization

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A Chinese worker paints unfinished licensed ceramic "Smurfs" at a factory in Dehua County, Fujian Province, China on December 7, 2014. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Chinese factory workers producing toys for major brands like Mattel, Hasbro, and Disney continue to work in grueling conditions, according to a recently published report by the nonprofit China Labor Watch.

Some workers have committed suicide amid work pressure, the report said. While China Labor Watch was investigating the Early Light Toy Factory in Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province, which manufactures toys, clothing, and travel accessories for major brands like Big Lots, Hasbro, Mattel, Costco, and Wal-Mart, two workers jumped from buildings. The organization reports the case of Yang Zongfang, 38, who was fired after violating a factory rule forbidding workers from allowing other people to use their entry card, and Lin Jinhua, 34, who tried to end his life after verbal abuse by a manager.

“China Labor Watch has been investigating working conditions in toy factories since 1999 and for over 18 years, this kind of tragedy has been constantly occurring,” the report read.

Workers prepare to depart for a factory in Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China, on February 26, 2009. (China Photos/Getty Images)

In August, the nonprofit investigated four factories in Guangdong Province: the Shaoguan factory; Dongguan Qualidux Plastic Products, located in Dongguan City, which produces children’s equipment like a Fisher-Price high chair; the Dongguan Chang’An Mattel Second Factory, which exclusively produces Barbie dolls for Mattel; and Shenzhen Winson Precision Manufacturing in Shenzhen City, which produces children’s toys like Mattel’s Hot Wheel toy cars. Investigators interviewed around 400 workers and also went undercover to get first-hand information about the factory’s working conditions. Many of the workers live in dormitories provided by the factories, which are unsanitary and cramped, with eight or more workers in a small space, according to the report. The dorm at Shenzhen Winson, for example, has nine people to a room, with a toilet that requires manually filling the basin with water to flush.

Though the factories follow labor laws requiring that laborers work no more than eight hours a day, China Labor Watch found that many workers chose to work overtime in order to achieve production targets, as without overtime pay, most would only make the base wage, of about $250 a month.

The organization found that most workers worked for 12 hours a day. All four factories had workers putting in over 80 overtime hours a month, with some clocking in around 140 overtime hours, according to the report.

Chinese workers prepare stuffed toys at a factory in Zhejiang Province, China, on September 17, 2015. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The report showed images of factory workers sleeping near the work area, or the factory’s recreation areas, to get some shuteye before work.

Fire safety was another issue. At Early Light Factory, emergency exits were blocked with piles of products. During lunch break, some workers also napped near emergency exits and staircases.

Meanwhile, both Early Light and Qualidux Plastic Products did not provide adequate protective equipment or other safety measures for workers who used toxic chemicals, such as acetone, China Watch reported.

From: The Epoch Times

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