At times we are blinded by ignorance myself very much included! We hear about things in the news that in this day and age we don’t expect to hear. It’s frightening, shocking and worrying, more so when we discover that big name toy manufacturers such as VTech are the centre of such worrying allegations.
If you haven’t already heard from the news then you will be unaware of what I’m talking about. VTech (those who bring smiles to our children with its disruption of electronic learning toys) have been accused of breaching human rights laws by running prison style sweatshops which drive its workers to Suicide!
The US-led probe is centred around the Vtech plant in China. I only discovered the news when reading the SUN newspaper today.
I have done past product reviews for VTech on my other blog, I’ve also brought many of their flashy children’s gadgets such as the Innotab for the children on their birthdays and Christmas. I now feel somewhat strange and slightly freaked out about having done so.
I’ve seen documentaries covering exploitation where workers are forced to work amongst dirt, for long hours, given little food and paid very little money. I’ve even watched some coverage where children are being exploited in such a way.
Yet somehow I do still find myself shocked and extremely saddened when big named brands worth billions come under the spot light, especially when it’s on my trusted list.
The Vtech plant in China have been accused of exploiting its staff by forcing them to slave on production lines for some 15hrs a day, beating those that don’t comply.
Workers are reported to be feed a diet of just rice and rotten spuds, forced to sleep in overcrowded factory dorms on hard wooden bunk beds without mattresses and receive a pay of just 70p an hour.
Workers have to stay at the factory as the wage is not enough to live on and those who do try to flee are reportedly beaten or have their meagre wages confiscated leaving them to starve.
I also came across an article online which states “Every year, 80 percent of employees attempt to leave, but in these cases they would have to forfeit the previous month’s wages. The factory does have a union, in line with Chinese labour laws, however the employees are either unaware of it or do not trust in the system”
The claims have been made by the ‘Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights’. It is said that the institute who lead this investigation is one that is very well respected.
Workers at the Hong Kong factories have been reported to have attempted suicide. The Institute have told how one 20 year old jumped from the 6th floor dorm and how a 24 year old female took an overdose in her dorm. A dossier that has been put together by the institute has exposed the sickening degree of exploitation it’s young workers have been subjected to. It highlights how workers have leapt to their deaths in a desperate attempt to free themselves from life in these Chinese factories. Workers are quite literally trapped, one worker tells watch dogs that working at the plant is like entering a lions den and becoming a shackled piece of livestock.
What saddens me most is the fact that VTech are said to have known about that of the suicide attempts but instead of taking action it’s said to have sworn staff to secrecy.
The factories involved are also the plants who make cordless phones for “Phillips” (and a number of others). However it is said that Phillips bosses have launched a full investigation into the institutes findings.
The Sun newspaper claims that VTech however have rejected such claims stating they are a responsible and caring employer which had harmonious staff relations.
We as parents buy these toys and give them to our children to enjoy. Knowing that some young person on the assembly line at these factories has been expected to fit four or five components to a circuit board every 11.25 seconds and those who fail to do so are then expected to work unpaid until they have, makes me as a person feel some degree of guilt for unintentionally contributing to toy demands.
Moaning at Argos during the crazy run up to Christmas when the stock is low on Innotabs, will certainly be something many parents may think twice about having read this.
I’m just a blogger and a mother writing about something I’ve read! I don’t want it to be true, who does but this shit happens… It’s sad but it does. Having done work to promote the brand, this now obviously leaves me a little sour and disheartened (it’s like being on the other side of the school gate, we never truly know what goes on in till someone points it out).
The human rights laws are their to protect, those in this country sadly protect the bad as well as the good. It seems that those in other parts of the world fail to protect anyone at all.
I know for many this will be a passing story that leaves little inprint in their memory when rushing to toy retailers come the Christmas rush. For others it will leave a mark, a memory that therefore changes the choices we make when Christmas shopping this year.
I look forward to any updates from VTech, a brand that supplies toys that I as a parent I have put my trust in when purchasing educational toys for the children (ones in which they all love to engage with)! A brand I have promoted on my signature blog and recommended to my readers.
Have you read the stories? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Especially those of the parent bloggers who like me, have done their bit to promote them.
Disclaimer: Information within this post has been drawn from recent news reports on and offline on the 1st July 2012.