The bitter side of toys
I am writing to express my concerns about sweatshops on the mainland. In 2002, just before the busy Christmas season, a young woman died at Bainan Toy Factory in Dongguan . After a 16-hour working day, Li Chunmei started bleeding from her mouth and nose, and died before the ambulance arrived.
I think the toy companies which have products made at the factory, which are rumoured to include Mattel and Disney, bear some responsibility for the accident. I believe they are too interested in profit to care about how the workers are treated.
Also, because these companies demand so many products made in such a limited time, the factory managers don't allow workers much time off.
I believe these international companies should review the circumstances at these factories. They should find out how the workers are treated. If such large companies continue to show so little respect for the individuals who make their toys, I believe customers will stop buying their products.
Leung Hang-ling, Our Lady of the Rosary College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Hang-ling. One of the disturbing side effects of unfettered capitalism is the sweatshop. It seems that all that matters these days is profit, and humans are a renewable resource just like everything else. There have been reports of these large companies threatening to leave a country if it seems that the government will improve worker conditions. This leaves the government having to choose between possible earnings of the workers, and their safety and well-being.
As consumers, we need to be very careful as to where we spend our money. That is the only way to make a difference and to send a very clear message to companies that this sort of exploitation will not be tolerated.
Only when companies feel the loss of customers will they change their ways. The more we want to buy cheap goods, the more this sort of thing will continue.