Problems with toys made in China are once again getting attention from lawmakers in Washington. At a hearing Thursday they learned the defective toys are the end product from an assembly line of misery. Long hours, little pay, abusive bosses -- the conditions are deplorable at Chinese toy factories, according to workers rights advocates. Charles Kernaghan is the National Labor Committee Director. He said, "The routine shift is 14 hours a day, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., six days a week. Workers are typically at the factory 87 hours a week, while toiling 70 hours, including 30 hours of forced overtime, which exceeds China's legal limit by 260 percent." Testifying at a Senate hearing Thursday morning investigators talked about the sweat-shop conditions they discovered in the factories where so many US toys and sporting goods are made. Kernaghan said, "Production line workers are allowed just one minute to assemble each Speedo 'Condor' swim mask, for which they are paid less than two cents." The hearings come on the heels of this summer's toy scare. Millions of toys made in China were recalled due to lead paint concerns. Researchers -- who spent a year investigating factory conditions -- say US toymakers are turning a blind eye to worker conditions in China in the name of profit. Dr. Bama Anthreya with the International Labor Rights Forum said, "On the one hand Wal-mart and others say don't worry, we'll protect workers, and on the other hand they're lobbying the Chinese government not to pass laws to protect their workers." In its defense, the toy industry says it's started an aggressive program to shield Chinese workers from harsh conditions. But the improvements still haven't been implemented at thousands of Chinese toy factories. Past Toy Industry Association chair Peter Eio said, "In two short years we've made great strides, but recognize there is a great deal still to be done."
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