The Coalition for the Safe Production of Toys

4th March 1997

On two occasions in less than a week a Hong Kong-owned toy factory producing giveaway toys for McDonalds in Vietnam seriously violated workers' rights.

On February 21, 220 workers at Keyhinge Toys (Vietnam) Co. , a 100% Hong Kong-owned toy factory, became seriously ill and were forced to stop work as a result of acetone poisoning and overwork. 25 workers collapsed and 3 were admitted to hospital for emergency medical treatment after falling unconscious. Workers were exposed to high amounts of acetone pollution in the air. In particular, the workers employed in the paint section of the toy factory are exposed to extremely high levels of acetone. Prolonged exposure to acetone affects the blood, and causes irritation to the nose, throat, lungs and eyes, headaches, dizziness and nausea, unconsciousness, and damage to the skin in the mouth. It also affects the menstrual cycle of women workers. Workers received no compensation and it was found that the company had failed to provide medical insurance.

The second incident occurred on February 22 when 200 workers were illegally dismissed. As workers were entering the factory in the morning, some 200 workers had their passes taken away and were denied entry. On February 23 an inspection team of officials from the trade union and the Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Welfare was sent to Da Nang where they instructed the management to reinstate the dismissed workers. The deputy director of Keyhinge Toys, Chen Wei Qing, agreed that the workers could resume work on March 6. The inspection team found that Keyhinge had violated the labour law and ordered that wages be paid for the period in which the workers had been illegally dismissed. On February 24 the management allowed 150 workers back to work and promised that the other 50 could start work again on March 6.

Keyhinge Toys (Vietnam) Co. is located in Lien Chieu district in Da Nang City, in central Vietnam, and employs 1 872 workers. It was set up by Keyhinge Industrial Co. of Hong Kong in March 1996 with capital of US$14 million. The Vietnamese Government gave Keyhinge a 25 year licence to operate in Vietnam. Less than a year after starting production 772 workers resigned in protest against poor working conditions and labour rights violations. Workers at Keyhinge Toys work for 9 to 10 hours per day, seven days a week. earn only US$0.60 to US$0.73 per day, less than the legal minimum wage. In a further violation of labour laws, the management failed to provide the workers with employment contracts.

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