Toys of Misery

Toys are very big business in America. Such giant corporations as Mattel and Hasbro, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us, spend nearly a billion dollars a year on advertising to push us to spend some $30 billion a year on the dolls, action figures, and other playthings they sell.

What the companies do not want you to think about is who makes the toys that produce such joyful profits for them. Can you say "sweatshops?" Toy barons like Wal-Mart, which sells one out of every five toys sold in the U.S., is that someday soon youngsters might begin asking: Where are the factories? How old are the workers? What are they paid? How do they live? Do they have toys?

Seventy-one percent of the toys we buy are made in China. Wal-Mart alone uses several thousand Chinese toy factories, but it refuses to release the name and address of even a single one of them, because it wants no independent observers poking into them and reporting on the fact that these places are hell holes. However, the National Labor Committee, a respected monitor of global working conditions, found some of the factories on its own and has issued a shocking report titled, "Toys of Misery."

For example, one of Hong Kong's top producers employs some 20,000 workers, mostly young women and teenage girls. They work from 8am to 9pm (and often 'til midnight), seven days a week, making toys that are shipped to Wal-Mart and other U.S. retailers. Even though the Chinese minimum wage of 31-cents-an-hour is not enough to meet basic human needs, these workers are paid 13-cents-an-hour. They live jammed together in company dormitories, 12 or more to a room. They literally are sick of work, thanks to the "paint dust" that constantly hangs in the air, as well as the toxic glues, thinners, plastics, and other solvents in which they're immersed every day.

Toys should not be the products of misery. To get this report and take action, call the NLC: 212-242-3002.

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