Inside China’s gruelling Toy Factories

chinese factory workers

[credit provider=”Courtesy Michael Wolf” url=”http://photomichaelwolf.com/#”]

China makes more toys than any other country in the world. In fact, a whopping 75 per cent of toys come from the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people.But China’s rise in the world of manufacturing comes at a price.

Click here to go inside the factories >
Even though China has had rapid economic growth in the past decade, more than 482 million Chinese — that’s 36 per cent of the population — live on less than $2 per day, according to global anti-poverty nonprofit War On Want.

Plus, 85 per cent of China’s poor live in rural areas. Extreme poverty forces many of them to leave the countryside in search of employment in urban areas.

German photographer Michael Wolf has taken a phenomenal series of photos he calls “The Real Toy Story” that shows what workers’ lives are like as they make all those toys.

Wolf’s photographs come from visits to five toy factories around mainland China. He has given us permission to share them with you here.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”every-day-the-workers-have-to-arrive-15-minutes-before-the-regular-work-shift-begins-for-a-work-assembly-1″
title=”Every day, the workers have to arrive 15 minutes before the regular work shift begins for a work assembly.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65079ecad04f270000001/image.jpg”
caption=””
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[slide
permalink=”their-living-conditions-are-prison-like-with-up-to-six-people-sharing-small-cramped-dormitories-and-up-to-50-people-sharing-one-bathroom-2″
title=”Their living conditions are prison-like with up to six people sharing small cramped dormitories and up to 50 people sharing one bathroom.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65081eab8eaa21900000f/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”student-workers-are-organized-by-schools-to-do-internships-3″
title=”Student workers are organised by schools to do “internships.””
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507aecad04f870000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”rather-than-learning-skills-related-to-their-respective-discipline-the-students-work-as-frontline-production-workers-4″
title=”Rather than learning skills related to their respective discipline, the students work as frontline production workers.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507d6bb3f7c157000008/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”some-factories-promise-workers-a-10-minute-break-after-every-two-hours-of-work-5″
title=”Some factories promise workers a 10-minute break after every two hours of work.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507beab8ea0f1c000003/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”most-workers-never-have-benefited-from-these-promises-6″
title=”Most workers never have benefited from these promises.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507c6bb3f7aa5500001a/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”after-the-work-shift-there-is-another-work-assembly-which-lasts-for-15-minutes-7″
title=”After the work shift, there is another work assembly which lasts for 15 minutes.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65070eab8ea6219000009/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”even-during-the-30-minute-lunch-period-workers-must-return-to-the-shop-floor-early-to-resume-production-or-to-attend-another-meeting-they-are-not-paid-for-the-time-spent-in-these-meetings-or-assemblies-8″
title=”Even during the 30-minute lunch period, workers must return to the shop floor early to resume production or to attend another meeting. They are not paid for the time spent in these meetings or assemblies.”
content=”Source: Sacom



image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6506f69beddd716000011/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”workers-endure-long-hours-6-7-days-a-week-9″
title=”Workers endure long hours, 6-7 days a week.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65075ecad04e070000002/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-overtime-work-is-up-to-200-hours-a-month-which-is-more-than-five-times-the-legal-limit-10″
title=”The overtime work is up to 200 hours a month, which is more than five times the legal limit.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c650766bb3f7b85500001c/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”female-workers-rarely-get-maternity-leave-and-with-extreme-hours-and-no-childcare-facilities-they-cannot-take-care-of-their-kids-11″
title=”Female workers rarely get maternity leave, and with extreme hours and no childcare facilities they cannot take care of their kids.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c650766bb3f7c057000002/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”many-women-are-forced-to-send-their-children-to-live-with-family-in-the-countryside-12″
title=”Many women are forced to send their children to live with family in the countryside.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65081ecad04f770000003/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”toy-production-involves-close-contact-with-chemicals-that-are-incredibly-harmful-to-the-workers-health-13″
title=”Toy production involves close contact with chemicals that are incredibly harmful to the workers’ health.”
content=”Source: China labour Watch
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507f69bedd9e1c000004/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”this-results-in-alarmingly-high-levels-of-occupational-disease-and-work-related-injuries-in-2009-alone-approximately-one-million-workers-were-injured-at-work-and-about-20000-suffered-from-diseases-due-to-their-occupation-14″
title=”This results in alarmingly high levels of occupational disease and work-related injuries. In 2009 alone, approximately one million workers were injured at work and about 20,000 suffered from diseases due to their occupation.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65074ecad04f470000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”many-factory-workers-are-not-even-required-to-wear-safety-equipment-including-those-who-spend-extensive-amounts-of-time-spray-painting-toys-15″
title=”Many factory workers are not even required to wear safety equipment, including those who spend extensive amounts of time spray painting toys.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65073eab8ea4f1c000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”injured-workers-report-that-factory-management-does-not-show-interest-in-workers-well-being-16″
title=”Injured workers report that factory management does not show interest in workers’ well-being.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65072eab8ea7516000024/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”and-the-companies-usually-forgo-paying-the-workers-entitled-monthly-salary-if-theyre-on-medical-leave-17″
title=”And the companies usually forgo paying the workers’ entitled monthly salary if they’re on medical leave.”
content=”Source: Sacom
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507569bedd5f1c000001/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”by-age-30-female-migrants-are-considered-too-old-for-factory-work-and-are-discharged-18″
title=”By age 30, female migrants are considered too old for factory work and are discharged.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65079ecad04f670000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”workers-can-usually-jump-from-job-to-job-fairly-easily-but-they-usually-do-not-receive-a-substantial-pay-increase-19″
title=”Workers can usually jump from job to job fairly easily, but they usually do not receive a substantial pay increase.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6506aeab8ea4a19000010/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”most-chinese-migrant-workers-do-not-own-the-products-they-spend-their-lives-making-20″
title=”Most Chinese migrant workers do not own the products they spend their lives making.”
content=”Source: The Voices of China’s Workers
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507cecad04f670000003/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”how-did-it-get-like-this-before-opening-up-its-economy-in-the-late-70s-the-chinese-government-issued-tight-control-between-rural-and-urban-areas-which-encouraged-people-to-migrate-to-cities-illegally-21″
title=”How did it get like this? Before opening up its economy in the late ’70s, the Chinese government issued tight control between rural and urban areas, which encouraged people to migrate to cities illegally.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65066eab8ea4a1900000d/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”according-to-war-on-want-these-controls-were-part-of-the-permit-hukou-system-in-which-welfare-entitlements-such-as-pensions-housing-health-and-education-were-tied-to-a-persons-place-of-birth-22″
title=”According to War On Want, “These controls were part of the permit (hukou) system, in which welfare entitlements such as pensions, housing, health and education were tied to a person’s place of birth.””
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65071eab8ea7d16000018/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”but-as-china-moved-toward-a-market-economy-cheap-rural-labor-became-integral-to-the-countrys-growth-23″
title=”But as China moved toward a market economy, cheap rural labour became integral to the country’s growth.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65074eab8eafc1b000027/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-limitations-on-migration-were-reduced-and-around-85-percent-of-chinas-rural-poor-flocked-to-the-cities-in-search-of-employment-24″
title=”The limitations on migration were reduced and around 85 per cent of China’s rural poor flocked to the cities in search of employment.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6506d6bb3f75c53000019/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”however-the-restrictions-on-household-registration-of-the-hukou-remained-as-rigid-as-ever-25″
title=”However the restrictions on household registration of the hukou remained as rigid as ever.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c650676bb3f79455000016/image.jpg”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”migrant-workers-became-unable-to-access-state-benefits-or-protection-despite-chinese-laws-promising-equal-rights-for-all-26″
title=”Migrant workers became unable to access state benefits or protection, despite Chinese laws promising “equal rights” for all.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507eeab8ea551c000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”they-became-outcasts-in-the-eyes-of-their-government-27″
title=”They became outcasts in the eyes of their government.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6506d69bedda41c000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”thats-approximately-150-million-migrant-workers-who-are-utterly-unprotected-28″
title=”That’s approximately 150 million migrant workers who are utterly unprotected.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65068eab8ea1b1c000002/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”they-endure-poor-working-conditions-such-as-excessive-and-forced-overtime-yet-dont-even-have-basic-social-security-benefits-or-employment-contracts-29″
title=”They endure poor working conditions such as excessive and forced overtime, yet don’t even have basic social security benefits or employment contracts.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6506fecad04f070000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”the-workers-lack-of-awareness-of-their-own-rights-and-the-chinese-governments-unwillingness-to-address-the-abuse-only-perpetuate-the-system-of-inequality-30″
title=”The workers’ lack of awareness of their own rights and the Chinese government’s unwillingness to address the abuse only perpetuate the system of inequality.”
content=”

Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c650716bb3f7fd59000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”multinational-corporations-and-national-factory-owners-take-advantage-of-the-anti-union-climate-31″
title=”Multinational corporations and national factory owners take advantage of the anti-union climate.”
content=”Source: War On Want
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507aecad04ad6e000006/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”despite-the-terrible-working-conditions-workers-are-optimistic-that-they-will-be-able-to-gain-new-skills-and-create-a-better-life-32″
title=”Despite the terrible working conditions, workers are optimistic that they will be able to gain new skills and create a better life.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c65080ecad04ed70000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”as-for-the-photographer-michael-wolf-he-has-a-display-made-out-of-16000-toys-purchased-second-hand-from-flea-markets-and-stores-across-california-each-toy-had-a-face-and-was-made-in-china-33″
title=”As for the photographer Michael Wolf, he has a display made out of 16,000 toys purchased second-hand from flea markets and stores across California. Each toy had a face and was ‘made in China.'”
content=”Source: http://imgur.com/a/wrIds
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c6507d69beddb419000008/image.jpg”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”now-see-everyone-buying-toys-like-those-34″
title=”Now see everyone buying toys like those”
content=”PHOTOS: Black Friday Shopping Hysteria From Across America >
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/50c674beecad04fe35000000/image.jpg”
caption=””
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[/slideshow]