New Sesame Street doll is made in Chinese sweatshop-labor report

New York Daily News  |  July 15, 2008  |  Link to article

Tuesday, July 15th 2008, 9:10 PM

New York labor activists are calling it the "Nightmare on Sesame Street."

A new Ernie-themed toy is being manufacted by underaged Chinese workers laboring under horrid conditions for pennies an hour, a new report alleges.

K'Nex toys released its Ernie-themed building sets in the United States Tuesday. A report by the National Labor Committee found the toys are made at the Kai Da toy factory in Shenzhen, China - an alleged sweatshop.

"Every single labor law in China was being violated at this factory," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the committee.
The report says that 600 workers - including 100 16-year-olds and some children as young as 13 - are forced to work seven days a week, up to 15 hours a day, often going for months without a day off.

The workers are allegedly paid 43 cents an hour and sometimes forced to work 23.5 hour shifts.

The Ernie Building Set in question retails for $10.99.

Officials at K'Nex, which makes such well-known toys as Lincoln Logs, vowed to investigate the group's allegations.

K'Nex is a major supplier to companies like Hasbro.

"We comply with the highest safety and labor laws in the toy industry. We take the NLC allegations very seriously," the K'Nex company said in a statement.

Kernaghan was skeptical.

"Don't they monitor these factories? Don't they visit these factories?" he asked. "They have enough power to clean up that plant overnight if they have the will to do it."

Durkin, Erin. "New Sesame Street doll is made in Chinese sweatshop - labor report." New York Daily News. 15 July, 2008. 16 July 2008