Since 1998 I have been traveling to Model Factories throughout China, Taiwan, and Viet Nam. I’ve heard of the horror stories about fabric sweatshops, child labor, factories that look like internment camps, and even here on WordPress there are articles about HORRIBLE conditions at factories around the world.
And even in the Hobby Industry, I’ve heard of modelers making snotty comments about having children build the models, etc…
So, ever since that first trip, I’ve looked at each factory, toured the facilities, and toured the facilities of factories near our own. There’s a few interesting things I found about OUR factories.
1. The working conditions are typically very clean, very safe, and always exceed the local and national standards. Some factories even have government employees inspecting the factories (much like Cal/OSHA) does looking for problems.
2. The factories typically work a standard 40 hour work week or they have a full month off for new year (Chinese Lunar New Year) in addition to all the regular holidays. The factories are ghost towns on their normal days off.
3. Workers are reworded for working at the factories for longer periods of time. Many factories pay 2-3 times the going local wage because painting, building models, covering, etc. is skilled labor. Not just anyone can do it.
4. The workers are making well above minimum wage, get room and board in many cases, have standard national health care, and are not forced to work. In fact many factories have trouble keeping employees because the factories are being built at such a fast rate product and job openings out perform available workers in many areas which drives pay rates UP, not down!
5. No Children work at our factories, PERIOD. It’s not legal there, it’s not moral, and none of the factories we work with would ever do something so horrible.
So when you hear alarmist stories, these are NOT the norm, these are NOT common, and they are NOT to be found anywhere in our hobby industry that I’ve ever seen.
This is a subject that has always bugged me. The factories we deal with are run by really nice people who simply would NEVER do these horrible things to another human being. EVER.
OK, I feel better. I’ve got that off my chest!