Report: Chinese Workers Earn One Cent Making $45 Disney Toy

The Princess Sing & Sparkle Ariel doll is sold out in many stores.

disney doll
The production of a Disney toy at a Chinese factory is violating overtime laws. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/EyeEm

An undercover investigation has discovered illegally long working hours and extremely substandard pay at a factory in China producing toys for Disney.

A particularly popular item right now, the Princess Sing & Sparkle Ariel doll inspired by the classic Little Mermaid movie, is earning women in the Wah Tung factory in the city of Heyuan just $.01 per item created, The Guardian revealed.

In partnership with rights groups Solidar Suisse and China Labor Watch, the news site found evidence of excessive and illegal overtime, basic pay rates as low as $1.08 an hour — without holiday or sick pay — and high levels of exhaustion among the employees tasked with making toys for Disney, Mattel’s Fisher Price brand and other international toy companies.

“Children love Disney’s toys but we want their parents to understand that there’s no Christmas magic going on here,” Simone Wasmann from Solidar Suisse said. “Those toys were made with cheap labour by women working illegally long hours for pennies. For them, it is just day after day of misery. They don’t work in those factories long into the night because they want to: they do that because it is the only way they can make enough money to live.”

Workers told the undercover reporters that if they were sick or out of work for any reason for more than three days, they were fined or even fired. As a result, staff said they worked 175 hours of overtime in a month, with only one day off —blatant breaches of Chinese labor law. The legal overtime limit per month is 36 hours.

At the peak of production, in late summer, as many as 2,400 of the dolls were made each day, The Guardian reported.

“At 5pm, the worker behind me said she felt so tired that her back was sore,” the undercover reporter noted from her time at the factory. “She wanted to sleep so badly but couldn’t, since our shift wasn’t over yet. She wondered why was time going by so slowly. I said that I also felt time was going by very slowly. When you’re constantly doing the same thing over and over again, you start to feel dizzy and your vision becomes blurry.”

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