Improvements made in the Toy Industry but Factory Conditions are still a Problem

REPORT | 2 April 2011

Swedwatch published the report “Reviewing Santa’s workshop” in 2009. One of the demands was that the toy business ensures that employees in toy factories in China become aware of their rights and have the opportunity to complain if these are violated.

The 2011 follow-up has been conducted through a round table meeting, where the companies had the opportunity to address the actions taken after the recommendations in the report 2009. Besides the toy companies the toy industries association ICTI CARE and the Hong Kong based NGO SACOM have had important roles in the discussion. A round table meeting was organized by Swedwatch and took place in Stockholm in February 2011.

The follow-up shows that the companies have acted upon the criticism. At the same time SACOM reports that ICTI CARE’s audits are not targeting nearly all problems in the Chinese factories that produce our toys.

The companies which participated in the round table meeting and were assessed in the 2009 report were: ABA-Skol, Brio, Lekolar, ICA, Top Toy and Åhléns.

Swedwatch’s recommendations to the toy companies and their industry association were:

Changing purchasing practices and capacity building
Develop strategies for working towards living wages for toy workers
Training of workers and management
Real representation of workers in the factories
Better and more detailed information to the consumers
Extend Code of Conducts to it include all ILO core conventions

The follow-up study reveals that the industry has made real progress since 2009. On the other hand working days are still too long, the wages are too low and the information to consumers is still not up to pair, although improved since 2009. A positive development in the Guangdong province are the examples of collective bargaining that have been noticed, which are also encouraged by Chinese authorities. Swedwatch will continue to monitor the Chinese toy industry.

Made in collaboration with: Fair Trade Center and Sveriges Konsumenter