China: Investigation finds labour abuse & sexual harassment at toy factories producing for international brands; Includes company responses

In November 2019, labour rights NGO China Labour Watch (CLW) released a report raising allegations of labour abuses faced by workers at five factories producing for international toy brands in Guangdong Province, China. Abuses documented by CLW include low wages, excessive overtime, inadequate health and safety protections, poor living conditions in worker dormitories, restrictions to freedom of association, discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Companies in CLW investigation (Source: China Labor Watch)

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the toy brands and factories to respond to the labour allegations raised by CLW. Basic Fun!, Buzz Bee Toys, Disney, fGTeev (Bonkers Toys), Hasbro, LEGO and Mattel responded and their responses can be found below. Melissa & Doug, MGA Entertainment, KD Group (Inspiration Works), Wah Tung (He Yuan), Dongguan KongXing Industry, Dongguan Wing Fai Foam Products, and Everfront Plastic & Electronics Manufacturing could not be reached or did not respond. 

The five factories investigated by CLW are ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) Certified, while Mattel, Disney and LEGO are Buyer Members of IETP. IETP launched its own investigation into the allegations and found evidence of allegations in violation of the IETP standard in four of the five factories (excluding Foshan Nanhai Mattel Precision Diecasting). IETP's report detailing its' findings and explaining the follow-up work it is undertaking at each factory is linked below.

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Item
7 January 2020

IETP follow up investigation to China Labor Watch toy industry report

Author: ICTI Ethical Toy Program

"ICTI Ethical Toy Program response to China Labor Watch report – November 2019", 7 January 2020

... Upon receiving the CLW report, IETP immediately launched a follow-up investigation into the allegations at the five IETP Certified Factories. Our follow-up investigation included a review of each CLW allegation, an analysis of existing audit data, factory visits to investigate allegations, and follow-up meetings with factory management.... 

[E]ach of the factories involved cooperated fully with our investigation and stated their commitment to tackling the issues raised. Whilst our investigation did not find evidence to support many of the allegations made in the CLW report, some of the issues raised by CLW are valid and of concern to us. IETP is taking... steps to address issues identified and to ensure that sustained progress is made at each factory...

[The full report is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
3 January 2020

Mattel's response

Author: Mattel

“Mattel is committed to ensuring every single person making our toys and products is treated fairly, with respect, and is able to work in a safe and healthy environment. Following the China Labor Watch report issued in November 2019, we requested the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) immediately look into the claims which pertain to Foshan Nanhai Mattel Precision Diecasting Co., Ltd (MFC). IETP conducted its investigation on December 3-4, 2019 and concluded that MFC is in full compliance with the IETP Audit Checklist. Mattel is committed to a strong safety culture and is reviewing IETP’s report to determine the steps that can be taken to improve workplace safety, including for example, enhancing communication of the safety training that is available to employees both in the classroom and workshop.”

Company response
31 December 2019

Disney's response

Author: Disney

... In response to the recent allegations made by CLW, we coordinated with the Ethical Toy Program (ETP) to conduct a full investigation... at these five facilities... [W]hile results vary by facility, auditors confirmed that in some cases the facilities were failing to meet the requirements and expectations of ETP and Disney’s International Labor Standards (ILS) Program... Once the ETP investigation reports are finalized, Disney will notify our licensees and vendors using these facilities of the specific violations of our ILS Program requirements...

In accordance with Disney’s ILS Program, these facilities, and the licensees using them, will have the opportunity to remediate labor standards violations within a specified timeframe and remain authorized to produce Disney-branded product in a manner consistent with our expectations. If the facilities choose not to remediate or fail to do so effectively, their authorization to produce Disney-branded product will be revoked...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
13 December 2019

Basic Fun!'s response

Author: Basic Fun!

... [W]e take any allegations seriously and will immediately send our in-house compliance team to personally assess a situation.

Upon our assessment, we were able to quickly determine which allegations were unsupported and which allegations required our immediate attention. In conjunction with the factory and our staff, we orchestrated a Corrective Action Plan that requires weekly communication and follow up with all stakeholders until all issues have been resolved.

We will continue to work with the factory in order to enhance their internal procedures and ensure our vendor has a focused management team with clear direction to abide by all compliance regulations. The factory acknowledges the consequences of their actions if they fail to comply with our requirements, up to and including, jeopardizing our business relationship...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
13 December 2019

Buzz Bee Toys' response

Author: Buzz Bee Toys

I [Operation Manager of Buzz Bee Toys] performed a factory visit for Wah Tung during 11-12/Dec, I learned that some brand owners such as Li&Fung/Disney including IETP also conducted on-site investigation on the factory, and related problems disclosed in attached report have been improved. I also talked with their senior management of the factory, and requested them to respond actively for mentioned problems and conduct factory audit from third party to prove their improvment... 

Company response
12 December 2019

Hasbro's response

Author: Hasbro

...Hasbro conducted an immediate investigation and determined that production of products for Hasbro or our licensees was occurring in two (2) of the five (5) named factories: Everfront and Dongguan Kongxing. Following a rigorous review of recent oversight audits and on-the-ground engagement at both factories, we have determined that the majority of the CLW allegations were unsubstantiated or have been remediated.

As with all of our third-party facilities, we continue to work closely with these factories to elevate working conditions and human rights, including monthly in-person training sessions re: important issues such as overtime hours, effective worker communication channels, protection of female workers, enhancements to dormitories, and worker well-being.

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
9 December 2019

Lego's response

Author: Lego

We are concerned by the findings... regarding the Dongguan Wing Fai Foam Products factory which manufactures a very small selection of foam toys.

We take such findings very seriously and will immediately conduct a thorough review of conditions at the factory to address the issues raised...

[The full response is attached]

Download the full document here

Company response
3 December 2019

Bonkers Toys' response

Author: Bonkers Toys

Bonkers Toys is committed to partnering with factories that emphasize fair and ethical treatment of their employees and are dedicated to a safe and respectful working environment. We take any allegations seriously and will be reviewing them to ensure that all of our factories are in compliance with rules and regulations.

Company non-response
1 December 2019

Dongguan KongXing Industry could not be reached

Company non-response
1 December 2019

Dongguan Wing Fai Foam Products did not respond