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Do Your Kids Know Who Makes Their Disney Toys?

Do Your Kids Know Who Makes Their Disney Toys?


A Chinese factory that makes Disney’s best-selling Cars toys, as well as toys for Walmart and Mattel, uses child labor and forces its workers to work three times the amount of overtime required by law. In May, a 45-year-old female employee, Hu Nianzhen, jumped from a factory building to her death after allegedly being shouted at by managers, the Guardian reports.

The harsh conditions in which toys are made in a factory called Sturdy Products were revealed with the help of human rights group Sacom (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior); the group also helped to expose abuses in Apple’s Foxconn plant in China this year; Foxconn manufactures iPads, iPhones, iPods and Mac computers. Workers were interviewed away from the Sturdy Products factory grounds and an investigator also worked in the plant for over a month and discovered:

  • The employment of a 14-year-old. Staff also reported the presence of other child workers, according to the investigator.
  • Routine excessive overtime. Employees produced a “voluntary” document they said they had to sign agreeing to work beyond the maximum overtime legal limit of 36 hours a month, along with wage slips that suggested they were averaging 120 hours of overtime a month.
  • A harsh working environment in which workers complained of mistreatment by management. One worker injured on the production line was shouted at and ordered back to work despite needing medical treatment.
  • Concerns about the chemicals in use and poor ventilation. Employees claimed three workers had fallen ill. They said they had to hide pots of adhesive and thinners during audits of the factory by its client companies.
  • They also claimed that they were paid by the factory to give misleading answers during audits and that they were fined for failing to hit targets. The calculation of wages for different workers was described by Sacom as arbitrary.

Sturdy Products is located in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Among the toys it makes are: Thomas the Tank Engine toys, Matchbox cars, Cars toys, Toy Story toys, Barbie and Fisher Price products, Scrabble and Hot Wheels sets.

On learning of the allegations of abusive practices at the Sturdy Products factory, Walmart said it had launched an investigation. Disney said that it “will continue to evaluate this situation based upon the information available to us.” Mattel said that it had carried out its own investigation but said that Hu’s suicide was “isolated event and local authorities had found nothing suspicious about the circumstances.”

The International Council of Toy Industries’ Care Foundation has accused Sacom of making “sensationalist, media-oriented declarations” that were “carping and filled with incorrect information.” Many workers in Chinese toy factories, says the Foundation, are “better off now than they were before and that this is due in considerable part to the ICTI Care Process.”

Perhaps the workers are “better off now,” but it’s possible that the conditions they previously worked under were even worse than those now.

The “Made in China” label tends to be associated with cheap products of poor quality. But it’s time to think about “Made in China” as meaning “made with human rights violations.” If you knew — if your children knew — that their smiling, shiny plastic cars were made by workers as young as 14 years old and under inhumane conditions, would you still buy the toys? If you do buy the toys, would you tell your kids where they come from?

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3:25PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

Will R - Are you actually the biggest idiot on this site? There are NO benefits of exploiting children!

7:53AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

that's awful. i try not to buy these kinds of toys.

11:10PM PDT on Sep 27, 2011

My kids don't have any Disney toys!

9:58AM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

The headline question SHOULD read: ' Do Parents know who makes their kids Disney Toys?'

And I'm betting most of them don't know - and , sadly, quite a percentage aren't that bothered, so long as their kids are happy with the toy(s) they receive.

I also bet that most parents don't know that most toys are in fact made in China.

But sure as Heck - Disney know .

10:03AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

Where would we be, what would we do, who would we turn to help right the wrongs if we were faced with all that is certainly true about our "America?"

3:03AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

I'm with you all! I never shop at walmart, and I try to buy and use as little as possible!
rarely shop at target,

5:49PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Shauna B. My anger is not against those poor people and children who work long hours. It's against the toy company's. I feel sorry for all the overworked and underpaid people.

12:50PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

don't buy things that are made in china

7:48AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

For Will R: I seriously hope you are joking? You're not advocating child slave labour surely?

11:29PM PDT on Aug 29, 2011

I do not have children by necessity, but if I did, I would not be piling them with all of this junk kids think they need to have for toys. I was spoiled as a child and had a HUGE toy box full of stuff - that I generally did not play with. I was always outside where I really wanted to be.

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