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Mattel Underpays, Overworks China Workers, Group Says

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Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, flouted labor rules at a factory it owns in China and at three plants used by its suppliers, advocacy group China Labor Watch said, citing investigations.

The maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheel toy cars underpaid and overworked workers at the factories in China, the New York-based labor group said in a press release yesterday. Mattel is currently investigating the allegations, Alan Hilowitz, a spokesman for the El Segundo, California-based company, said in an e-mailed statement overnight.

The investigations have revealed violations of at least 15 sets of labor rules including illegal overtime pay, excessive working hours, forced labor and a lack of safety training at the factories supplying to Mattel, the group said. China Labor Watch has spoken out on labor malpractices in the past in companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. supplier Foxconn Technology Group.

The advocacy group said all four manufacturing plants maintained monthly overtime hours two to six times in excess of the 36-hour legal limit, and workers were not required to wear safety equipment despite handling harmful chemicals.

Mattel takes the welfare of its supply chain staff “very seriously” and conducts regular audits to make sure its factories are comply with business practices in line with global industry standards, Hilowitz said. Vendors are also expected to maintain those levels, he said.

“If a vendor fails to comply, Mattel has the right to impose corrective actions and any failure to implement such a plan may lead to a termination of the business relationship,” the company said in the statement.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Liza Lin in Shanghai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at