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China – Another US company accused of labour violations

16 October 2013

In the run-up to their busiest and most profitable time of year, US-based labour rights group, China Labour Watch, has accused toy giant Mattel of labour violations at supplier factories in China, including failure to pay adequate wages, reports the South China Morning Post.

This marks the second American company in recent months that has been the subject of mistreatment accusations by China Labour Watch. In two separate incidences, computer giant Apple was accused of mistreating workers and abusing temporary agency workers.

China Labour Watch said it had found legal and ethical violations at six plants that 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.

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

A China Labour Watch statement said: “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. 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 California, includes Barbie dolls and Fisher-Price toys among its brands, could not be immediately reached for comment, reports the South China Morning Post.

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

China Labour 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 Labour Watch claims that the company has failed to “rigorously” enforce that code of conduct. The labour rights group and its partner in the report Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France have urged Mattel to respect the rights of Chinese workers.

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