• Thu
  • Oct 16, 2014
  • Updated: 4:54am

US group accuses Mattel over China labour violations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 5:25pm

A US-based labour rights group on Tuesday accused toy giant Mattel over a series of violations at supplier factories in China, including failure to pay adequate wages.

China Labor Watch said it had found legal and ethical violations at six plants Mattel contracts work to, according to a report based on worker interviews and undercover investigations.

Among the issues were under-compensation through failure to pay overtime and provide mandatory insurance, said the report posted on its website.

One of the most alarming findings was the various methods – many illegal – that Mattel’s factories use to reduce their workers’ due wages and benefits

The campaign group put the value of what it called “wage theft” at the six factories at between US$8 million and US$11 million annually.

“One of the most alarming findings was the various methods – many illegal – that Mattel’s factories use to reduce their workers’ due wages and benefits,” it said.

“Mattel’s factories achieve cost reductions through the degradation of labour conditions ... Workers at the bottom of the system are forced to bear the brunt of this burden.”

Mattel, which is headquartered in the US state of California, includes Barbie dolls and Fisher-Price toys among its brands, could not be immediately reached for comment.

But one of the contractor companies named in the report, Dongyao Toy Company in southern China, denied any violations.

China Labor Watch said Dongyao, which is based in Dongguan, failed to pay weekend overtime and recorded excessive overtime hours of up to 100 hours per month.

“We have purchased all the social insurance required, paid all the salaries according to contract,” a human resources official at the company said.

“The workers who raised these complaints probably have some misunderstanding,” said the official, who declined to be named.

In 1997 Mattel introduced global manufacturing principles in a commitment to responsible manufacturing, according to its website.

China Labor Watch said the company had failed to “rigorously” enforce that code of conduct.

China Labor Watch and its partner in the report Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France urged Mattel to respect the rights of Chinese workers.


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Reality is there are very few factories that are totally compliant with all aspects of the laws in China. Overtime pay and retirement fund contributions are often manipulated by employers. Even the calculation basis is subjective. The causes for such breaches stemmed from factory owners'greed to maintain profits and downward pressures from buyers in a soft economy. The major corporations such as Walmart, Apple, and the big brands need to show continue growth in profits to maintain and increase its shares value, albeit in a global economy still far from recovery. So someone has to take the hit and unfortunately, the poor low end working class always bear the brunt.


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