Santa's Workshop

Santa's Workshop

2004, Economics  -   82 Comments
Ratings: 8.53/10 from 78 users.

Sometimes we have no choice, we work till dawn. When you work all night you become dizzy and your eyes hurt because you can't take any breaks.

SANTA'S WORKSHOP takes you to the real world of China's toy factories. Workers tell us about long working hours, low wages, and dangerous work places.

Those who protest or try to organize trade unions risk imprisonment. Low labor costs attract more and more companies to China. Today more than 75% of our toys are made in China. But this industry takes its toll on the workers and on the environment.

The European (and American) buyers blame bad conditions on the Chinese suppliers. But they say that increasingly hard competition gives them no option. Who should we believe? And what can you do to bring about a fairer and more humane toy trade?

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9 months ago

i worked there on £9.50 per hour

Joe Wong
3 years ago

The West said they were inventive, discipline, hard working, sensible and economically progressive, while the East including China is the opposite, the other. In the toy industry the West is beaten by the East hands down. The West said the smart one can't be beaten by the ignorant, chaotic, lazy, erratic and economically stagnant East, particular Chinese. So the only way to explain away the West's failure due to their arrogance, laziness, greed, self-centered, economically-short sighted is to make a documentary to portray China is regressive, no human rights, salve factories, etc. in order to make sense to the author and the brain washed majority.

6 years ago

If you want to know why everything is so expensive and few jobs in the usa? Corporate price gouging and union labor costs. So we have union run car plants moving overseas and Japanese non union car plants in the usa doing great. That should tell you plenty.

6 years ago

Unions?! Ha. That is much of the reason that CAUSED the problem to begin with. Factories in western countries got tired of unions always wanting more for doing less. A union is nothing but an extortion gang too chicken to risk STARTING THEIR OWN COMPANY and COMPETE; which would be actual capitalism not the misuse of the term by socialists who can never admit to the true nature of that system and its inherent evil in robbing people of their freedom under the guise of taking care of things that the person should be taking care of themselves, like healthcare and running their own business. A union is the perfect training ground for socialism. The union bosses run the show and dictate whether you work or not. How wonderful. Talk to some union workers who have a conscience and follow the right way to do a job, such as an electrical installation. If they don't cut corners as instructed, they don't get assigned another job.

The solution is for the people to gather together, send half as much home and put the other half towards their own company. There are companies in the usa where the workers own it and work it. That is not socialism where govt dictates or a union dictates or corporatism where a corporate boss dictates. It is capitalism where YOU decide how things will be. And if you don't like it with that group, start your own.

The problem is the education. Education throughout the world has been taken over by those of the socialist evil mentality who want you all to be wage slaves and teach you to be good little workers instead of good self reliant entrepreneurs.

There are many rich entrepreneurs in China. Watch a documentary on that. Many do business with other entrepreneurs supplying what parts they need and modifications very quickly UNLIKE A UNION run outfit does with a bunch of workers whose only concern is doing as little as they have to and race home to get a beer. And when the union boss tells them to vote to strike, they do. How much was that union boss paid under the table by the corporate heads to call for a strike so they can have an excuse to move to asia to get out from under the union altogether? Maybe. Maybe not. But very FEW ever thinks they get paid enough for what they do.

It is understandable to feel sorry for others but to condemn them to another bad idea like a union would be perfectly playing into the hands of those who run the world and are hoping that is the next step you take rather competing with THEM.

8 years ago

"The consumers aren't willing to pay the real cost for Chinese labor." Granted, some items are very cheap but more are also expensive and still made in China. These CEOs need to stop sugarcoating and say the truth- the CEO is not willing to decrease his own profit and disperse it to the laborers.

Puscas Marin
9 years ago

All those people need is a spark, this makes me think about the real Labor Party now known as Communist party who is very far from is initial ideas.
Nobody should live in those conditions !

guta anton
9 years ago

The sclave of today will rule the world !!!
they ar working for the generations thet will come .good for them same on us for being so lazy.sorry by bad english im from soviet country.

10 years ago

Is it not an irony that the computer, tablet or smartphone you are watching this Docu. most likely has components made with slave labour.

Fajar Ajie Setiawan
10 years ago

although i think this Wong guy's logic is laughable, he did have a point. Same thing are happening in Indonesia, labors want minimum fee raised to around US$200 a month. They are in talks with business & gov't right now. The difference here and China? labor union.

Definitely this Wong guy only tried to scrape theories here and there, injected it in his arguments but dude, "you're all over the map".

10 years ago

Phil Wong sounds like a troll to me. This is a damning documentary on blatant exploitation. This is not a transition downward. This is the new labor market for tomorrow's workers around the world.

10 years ago

moving the problem to another country doesnt make it go away... the west still uses slaves, just not where we can see them

if china were to turn into a democracy where this was prevented, who will make our toys? and who would make chinas toys?

it doesnt work just to hide the problem, consumerism and greed are the driving force here, change wont happen unless somebody profits from it

11 years ago

As long as there are retail cartels, Walmart, Target etc. waiting for cheaply made product for their stores, the exploitive conditions will remain as status quo. And the consumers are more than happy to pack these outlets in search of the "big bargains."

11 years ago

The consumers should not have to bother themselves with this. Why should they? It's the job of the Chinese govt. to make sure their citizens are cared for under their labour laws. If only they did care, these workers would get better wages and their working conditions would improve. Ultimately we'd end up paying more for their toys and electronics but I think that would only be fair. At the moment, cheap chinese labour is killing competitors in other countries who are more accommodating towards their labour force. Bottom line is that China needs democracy... Or a 'Regime Change' if you know what I mean... I do wonder why the chinese people haven't overthrown their oppressors by now if everyone was unhappy there.

11 years ago

That's what happens when you have a nation full of trained monkeys. I'm not saying Chinese are trained monkeys because they are Chinese, I'm saying they are trained monkeys because each and every one of them is raised in exactly the same education system that teaches them to never ever step out of line or take the risk of thinking for themselves. Some of them are smart enough to overcome this but the majority never will.

If the Chinese government wasn't so horribly insecure and wasn't scared out of their brains at the idea of having an aware citizenry, then the majority wouldn't need to compete for the lowest wages in the world. They could actually use their brains to make money instead of doing what robots can do.

You don't earn the right to be paid more by accomplishing less. That's not how the world works and nor should it. If you insist that x% of the citizens must have brains limited to that of a factory worker, well guess what, x% will have to work in factories. On top of that, they have to compete for the lowest wages with whoever else can work in factories (e.g. vietnamese, cambodians, etc). Why would people pay a premium for something that robots can do? Why would we pay more to Chinese to do something when we could pay Africans to do it instead and save them from starving to death? Are Blacks less entitled to food water and shelter than Asians? I don't think so. If you want to go and pay 5x the price for the same thing, fine, shutup and do it, but don't expect everyone else to do it too.

What's most shocking is that people in countries like the US don't understand that they are going to end up like this too, thanks to the dumbing down of the population by the "your ignorance is as good as my knowledge" movement (e.g. teaching creationism instead of science in schools).

11 years ago

Many of you guys really aren't getting it, Capitalism IS the reason the only other alternative to working like this is to have no job. We are dependent on the resources and cheap labor of other nations to continue our way of life. In fact if you check out Stephen Kinzer's book "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq" you will see what happens to these"poor country's" when they decide they want to restrict these transnational corporations in order to keep the wealth for themselves...they are killed, tortured and/or imprisoned, democracy's overthrown and replaced my cruel dictatorships that allow big businesses to come in and make HUGE Profits. The United States has overthrown 14 governments in the name of HUGE PROFITS, you all should know that, I don't know about Europe, but the ideal is the same. As long as capitalism is alive, the ideal of it is up to each individual to go out and make a profit, there will be constant war and suffering for the majority of the world. When is the world gonna wake up and notice that hey, EVERYONE DESERVES FOOD, WATER, HEALTH CARE, A PLACE TO LIVE AND A JOB THAT NOURISHES THEIR LIFE AND THE PLANET AS WELL. We have to stop thinking like selfish barbarians and understand that the Earth has more than enough for us all to have just that, we could all THRIVE and live in peace and respect for one another. I also have to comment on that one guy in the movie who said, well the customers don't want to pay a higher price for these goods, well my answer is STOP MAKING THE CRAP THEN! At such a huge price to those women and the environment, I will gladly stop buying my kids stupid plastic toys they don't need anyway- send your kids outside to play, trust me the dirt, rocks, and trees are much more interesting anyway! Come on people this is SLAVERY, no body is saying it but that is exactly what it order to get ahead at all these people have to work around the clock and skip meals, anyone who defends Capitalism should be forced to move to China and work in a plastic factory, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no breaks!!!! Things look awfully different to those who are not in the place of profit!

phillip wong
11 years ago

This is funny to me..

I guess we should just move all those Apple jobs back to the US, and let those poor exploit Chinese factory workers back to abject poverty in the country side, or the farm. Is this what these activists want?

Peter Ho
11 years ago

I remember I got employed in McDonald's in Sydney when I was 15. The youngest there as like 12. So don't come out and dramatise "child labour". It's extremely disgusting to see people in developed countries magnifies this issue while child labour being legalised in their countries.

Under the current system, "you don't work, you die". Unless we can come together and change the system, "CHILD LABOUR" will persist everywhere. Developed countries are no exception.

11 years ago

globalization, a world where everyone wins.

Eric Mora
11 years ago

This is stupid!!!!!! Chinese see TVs wide screen

11 years ago

Thank you for making this doc-thank you for sharing his doc-it is now on my facebook page-Shame Shame Shame---

11 years ago

Nothing new..
These are exact conditions in India, I have worked with some global brand-names which offer same working conditions.
I have seen welders weld with no protective glass, they just shut their eyes.
There is no way out.

Gari Whu
11 years ago

What is sad is that due to the huge population and current economic situation in China, for every worker who is unwilling to work in these conditions and hours, there are many more who will brave worse.

On the positive side, migrant workers work here are earning much more than they ever would back at home. This is, in fact, a step up in their lives - if they can bear.

Cc - there is no spiked drug LOL. Their opium is their society. And on a purely economic side, drugs cost money and bosses won't incur more expenses.

11 years ago

Very disturbing, feel very sad for those people. Not only are they brainwashed and conditioned to think they deserve no better. Their water and food that is 'provided' is probably 'spiked' with chemicals/drugs to keep them anesthesied.

Interesting.....the Land of the Free/ United States is allowing poisons in our water and food also....the purpose - heck who really knows----

11 years ago

When search for chemical raw material, it's been a while I stay away from chineses. A few exceptions as the water soluble PVA produced by the Jap company at most. But a huge company close to offer better lifestyle than many USA based ones. Stll, they come up with unbeatable prices.

And there are quite a few other "New" advanced tech. companies like that produce epoxies in Thailand who's now quite a leader, the other one in the Filipines that produce emulsions. Not yet a leader but...

So, as much as some chinese producers are over exploiting workers in China, the workers who wants to get forward and lead do have opportunities.
Bare in mind that the political system over there is socialism.
For the least, in principle.
Something absent in many other countries.


11 years ago

It's fascinating to watch the blame being pushed around. It's the worker's fault, no, it's the factories' fault, no, it's the client's fault and last but not least, it's the customer's fault. The head in the sand attitude is quite remarkable.

12 years ago

The buyers DO NOT CARE, all they want is low price. That is it.

12 years ago

I work in manufacturing in Asia and I can say that it is not fair to place the blame entirely on the factories. The buyers place extremely stringent controls on price and payment terms so that factories are sure to find ways to make the price. My factory loses out to China all the time because of being a few percentage points above their target price or demanding payment terms that are very unreasonable in countries such as Thailand where there is little or no bank financing support. The fact is, the market demands lower prices so blame yourselves. Our factory practices within the law and wages are higher than minimum in Thailand. Some factories cheat but in the end, labour is short and they lose.

12 years ago

Can everybody just stop just for a minute.
Yes it is we that buy this kind of stuff that China makes, but if everyone just knew how badly Chinas toy factories is, I bet that not even half of us would buy those toys.
If I knew about Chinas factories a long time ago then I would'nt buy those toys.
Can't we all just...( I just foregot what I was about to say...)
This problem that we have right here it is hard to solve.
Because if we all stopped buying toys from China, the factories will be shut down and all of the millions of workers won't have a job left.
What will China do then?
China is well known to make toys, chlothes, games and alot of other stuff.
China runs on the factories, so what can we actually do?
Maybe if China sell there laybour for a bit more money but not much enough so other countries won't buy labour from another land.
Then the factories get more money and also the workers.
And then the factories has enough money to hire more employs so the other workers don't have to work that much.
Or what do you guy's think?
It's just a suggestion.
Or we all can protest infront of the toystore like BR about the toy factories in China.
We all can demand that the workers don't work so many hours (because if the workers is tired they are'nt that focused and can easily make a mistake or get sick and get all the disease all over the toys)
and get protection like mask or stuff that you put in the ears and more money.
We all can achieve it if we stay together and work hard!
It's verys simple.
If we don't buy toys in the toystore and protest, the toystore won't earn any money.
When they don't earn money there only way out is the tell the toy factory to change the rules for the workers.
And everything will be happely ever after if everything just go according to the plan!

12 years ago

I think the real issue is to recognize our greed in consumption and the demand in which we place and hold other countries responsible for our selfishness

12 years ago

Must of missed watching this doc. sounds interesting.

12 years ago

I've seen worse working conditions right here in the US. I can also tell that they have taken much of the interviews out of context. They know nothing about Asian culture, yet they try to twist it around like it's some sort of evil. These women go there and work as many hours as they can, spending as little s possible, and sending almost everything they earn home to their parents. Unlike Americans, Asians dedicate their lives to supporting their parents. Trust me, I'm married to an Asian and this is what I've learned about my wife's culture. Although I may not agree with her culture, I still have to respect it. This is called cultural relativism and according to it, the makers of this documentary are being both immoral and unethical because they are judging other cultures by comparing them to and expecting them to conform to their own cultural values an beliefs. These people are nothing more than bigots. They need to stop dictating what they perceive should be appropriate in other cultures.

12 years ago

This doc just makes the china look bad. If these people didnt work they'll be in poverty like Africa these chinese workers should be very happy that they have jobs and earning money otherwise they'll be the vilages working in the farms with less the half wage of what they get from the factories. If they're not happy they can go back to their rice farms its simple humans are never happy with anything.

12 years ago

If I could embed a film, or part of a film, in my site and not just on Facebook, many times the number of people might see it, and give topdocumentaryfilms more notice than I already share.

12 years ago


12 years ago

The fact is that Capitalism is greatly flawed, but no one likes saying that in the media because they're owned by the people who are happy to allow these criminal acts to occur. Yes it would be easier for these people to stand up and fight against these rules, and they have with the man who stood before the tank.

Tankman was in the papers because it showed the people fighting against Communist China, but those people that fight against the child labour aren't. What we should really be doing is trying to show this to the masses, because when was the last time you saw docs like this on TV. No one cares about these children dying from working too hard, or the African people being butchered, or many of the atrocities that are going on the the world. All people seem to care about is who is going to win Pop Idol or the X Factor.

That's right people, children are being sold as sex slaves, but hey, at least these guys can sing well.

It makes me sick.

12 years ago

Thanks for sharing this.

What I can think of as a solution is that we, as consumers, should prefer eco-friendly products instead of low-priced and low-quality ones. We should compensate for our share of the cost and should be aware which company applies ethical codes and which ones are not.

Sorry for the Chinese workers but sooner or later they should go for their own "revolution" just as French did in 1789.

12 years ago

Sad but how can someone so far away solve it. Like someone mentioned - if you don't buy they are out of work. If you do buy - theses are accepted practices. I try not to buy now things from china when I can. I avoid the dollar stores because that's where all of their stuff seems to come from.

It's not just factories that exploit them. You can get programming from some countries for as low as $2 an hour. As an american I simply can't compete with that. There are 189 hours in a week. I would have to work day and night with no sleep and only make $378 before taxes. I have a weekly budget of $120 just for food and pet supplies. That does not count elec, gas, water, internet, phone, rent, car, student loan for college etc. and I carry no health insurance so that all has to be paid cash. Back trouble so bad I couldn't move once and it cost me 250 to take an ambulance and over 600 just to be seen in emergency care and they had no resolution other than "if it stays bad, you may need surgery". I still managed to hobble off to school the next painful week doped up on over the counter meds because the bills keep coming half paralyzed or not so I had to get the classes done. Don't think americans won't work hard for something. It hurts my feelings when someone uses outsourced programming in my country just because they are cheaper :(

When someone wants the cheapest they just can't come to americans - we have too many costs to live in america to be that cheap. Just remember when you buy cheap there's a reason eh. I tend to now favor expensive things. They don't seem to break as often and while it means I pay more out, I imagine that its because a worker was paid enough to live and not tortured by work.

12 years ago

The workers are from other provinces; few if any from home terv working in these factory complexes. They're not uncles or cousins sharing labor in a farm or village but perfect strangers seeing others as competitors, if they fail to perform, no money to mail back to families in need. This weakness of the fragmented crowd allows local authority (bosses + govt) to prey on individual naivete for profit. Easy as taking candy from a baby. Also makes you wonder-do you care and support fellow co-workers, wherever you are in the world? With all the office politics going on, like playing at the casino, THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS!

From the anthropological angle, it's about superimposing one human organizational system on another - from the traditional agrarian & blood-based (where people see and care only for their immediate families) to the larger urban communities where all livelihoods are sustained.

"To love others as you love yourself" is an inevitable if painful lesson for much of humanity.

12 years ago

This my friends is what capitalism is. If the Chinese government was really communist, they would close off the market and workers wouldnt make products for foreign companies. Of course, the glorious companies of the USA wouldnt want their cheap labor closed off so yippee... we have a war vs China -.-

enduring freedom
13 years ago

These workers need to stand up for themselves and form a union just like my country USA if they dont they have no hope they can only help themselves. And the longer they wait the less chance they will have thier goverment is a facist one and is not a peoples republic.

13 years ago

BUY from artists, artisans and craftsperson's. Don't fall for the commercial BS artists and if you buy from your fellow country folk you may have something that actually lasts. When was the last time you ever bought something from a big box store that didn't fail within the first several uses? STOP FALLING FOR IT, they count on your stupidity and sheepness.

13 years ago

What can people do to help? If we don't buy the toys, they lose. If we do buy the toys, they lose. I hate how the guy in the suit says "it makes no sense to give them more money for less work", but I bet he gets more money for less work. Wealthy people are so greedy! You would think that human nature would take care of each other. They can still be wealthy & give a bit more to their workers.

13 years ago

A real eye opener for me. Even more reason i have now to hate the things the goverments allow to happen to there own people.

13 years ago

what's also alarming is the fact that they use the contaminated water to irrigate their crops! sometimes we get produce and other crops in our country. very disturbing to know that we even get some of our food from them!

13 years ago

Unfortunately these people are their own worst enemy. They are the most oppressed people in the world and no one can help them but themselves.

They all need to grow a backbone and standup to their employers but they'd rather just remain passive and quiet and work like slaves while the fat cat europeans get a free ride off of their slave labour.

How long have they been oppressed, proabably forever, 1000's of years, and that's never going to change until they learn to get angry and stick up for themselves.

Westeners have been through this and due to years of sacrifice managed to turn conditions in favour of the worker, but all this sacrifice has now been lost due to these yellow bellied asian workers who have no backbone, and the whole world is going to suffer because of it.

Wake up people, you are 1.3 billion strong, the power is within your grasp, freakin well start talking to each other and stand up to these facist freaks!! The power of the people is 1 billion times stronger than that of the elitists...WAKE UP!!!!

13 years ago

well this is the wonderful globalised economy that we hear so much about

13 years ago

I think it's awful how the chinese have to work very long hours, with very little pay. You really can take granted for what people are doing for work now a days in other countries, you don't really realized what's going on, it's sad really. I also think it's an impeccable documentry, it makes you realize how easy you have it. Unlike those who suffer from poverty...

13 years ago

Nothing less than Hell on Earth.

13 years ago

thank you for letting me know

14 years ago

Great Documentary, it completely changes the way you look at toys and other products made in China.