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She sings. She sparkles. The reality would come as a cruel surprise. For elves, read Chinese factory workers. For the north pole, read the city of Heyuan.
And for happy, read miserable — from illegally long working hours and exhaustion to wages too low to support a family. Staff at the Wah Tung factory in the city of Heyuan said that they worked hours of overtime in a month, with only one day off over that period — both breaches of Chinese labour law and toy industry codes of conduct. The basic wage on the line is 7. It is home to Wah Tung Heyuan Toy Manufacturing Ltd, where about 2, workers produce a range of mainly plastic toys and electronics.
Many online stores have sold out of stock and are awaiting a fresh delivery a few days before Christmas. At the peak of production, in late summer, as many as 2, of the dolls were rolling off the Wah Tung production line each day. The doll comes with a mane of deep red hair and a glittery tail that acts like a snow globe.
But the investigation found that, when costs were broken down, each of the women on the production line was receiving just 1p for every doll they helped produce. From her own experience and interviews with fellow workers, she found daily overtime varied between two and five hours and that, with weekends included, overtime would sometimes hit hours a month — nearly five times the legal limit of 36 hours.
A survey last year put the average Chinese monthly salary at 7, yuan. Workers were expected to arrive 10 minutes before the start of their shifts; many reported feeling excessively tired because of the long hours. Photographs from the production lines show workers asleep or resting during breaks. She wondered why was time going by so slowly. I said that I also felt time was going by very slowly.