December, 21 2006 |  Download PDF |  Share

The Sweatshop Behind the Bratz

A Joint Report prepared in collaboration with
China Labor Watch

The Dirty Little Secret behind the Flashy, Best-Selling Bratz Dolls

Bratz dolls are all the rage, ranking as the most sought-after toy this holiday season, surpassing even Barbie, which has dropped to third place.  Bratz dolls now make up 40 percent of the fashion doll market, and will bring in $3 billion in sales this year.  Many parents are already concerned about the big doe-eyed, scantily-clad, high-heeled and half-emaciated Bratz dolls, some of which look like little hookers with supersized lips, being marketed to their very young children.

But there is another dirty little secret behind the Bratz dolls.  They are made in a sweatshop in China, where women are routinely forced to work seven days and 94 ½ hours a week, for wages of just 51 ½ cents an hour, $4.13 a day.

As bad as conditions are now, they are about to get worse.  The factory wants to fire all the workers and then bring them back as temporary workers with contracts of just one to eight months, which would strip them of any legal rights they might have.  As it is, the workers are denied sick days as well as work injury and health insurance.

In January 2007, out of desperation, the Bratz doll makers will go out on a wildcat strike.

There is another dirty little secret behind the Bratz dolls—a secret that MGA, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us do not want us to know:  It's that the workers in China are paid just 17 cents for each doll they assemble, and that the total cost to produce the doll is $3.01.  When the Bratz dolls enter the U.S., the companies mark the price up by 428 percent—another $12.88—and retail the dolls for at least $15.89.  It's a good deal for the companies and a very bad deal for the young workers in China, and—for more than one reason—for parents and children across the United States and Europe.

A Passion for Fashion Cloe bought at Toys"R"Us for $15.89.


If Bratz could speak, they would sing the Sweatshop Blues

  • Routine 13 ½ to 15 1/2 —hour shifts, seven days a week.
  • Workers at the factory 94 ½ hours a week.
  • Paid just 51 ½ cents an hour and $4.13 a day.
  • Workers denied work injury and health insurance, in direct violation of China's law.
  • Taking a sick day results in loss of three days' wages.
  • Workers failing to meet their production goals must remain working—unpaid—until the target is met.
  • Workers are not allowed paid days off to get married.
  • Ten workers share a small dorm room, sleeping on metal bunk beds.  There is no shower or TV.
  • If a worker breaks a doll, she is docked five hours' wages.
  • Before the gullible Wal-Mart auditors arrive, the workers are provided a Cheat Sheet with a list of the "correct" answers, which they must memorize.
  • Now the factory wants to fire every worker and then bring them back as temporary workers with contracts limited to just one to eight months—which will strip them of any legal rights they have.  The workers are planning to strike in January 2007.
  • The workers are paid just 17 cents for each Bratz doll they assemble.
  • The total cost of production for a Bratz doll made in China is $3.01.  When the doll enters the U.S., the companies mark up the cost by another 428 percent, adding $12.88, for a retail price of $15.89.


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