McDonald's toy factory fires underage workers

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Scores of underage workers hired in a mainland China factory that makes toys for McDonald's were fired following recent reports about the situation, a Hong Kong labour-monitoring group says.

Scores of underage workers hired in a mainland China factory that makes toys for McDonald's were fired following recent reports about the situation, a Hong Kong labour-monitoring group says.

The teenagers were also threatened into lying about the conditions of their work place if asked by inspectors, the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee said.

"They were told to move out within three days or else they'd be taken away by the police," said Monina Wong, spokeswoman for the group, which said it obtained its information by talking to some of the young workers.

McDonald's said today that the company takes the underage-labor allegations seriously and is conducting an "intensive, top-to-bottom inspection by a full-scale auditing team" at the plant just across the border in Shenzhen.

McDonald's said it has interviewed 500 employees, adding it has a strict policy for working conditions at plants run by its suppliers - prohibiting child labor among other things - and any company that does not comply can lose its business from McDonald's.

The story first appeared on August 27 in the South China Morning Post, which said a reporter infiltrated the plant and interviewed a number of the workers who were as young as 14, working 16-hour days in spartan conditions that include crowded dorm rooms that contain wooden beds with no mattresses.

The minimum employment age in China is 16.

Some of the young workers were quoted by the Post as saying they lied about their age to gain employment at City Toys, the company that produces such items as Snoopy, Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh dolls sold with McDonald's meals.

An outside auditor employed by McDonald's has declined comment, and Pleasure Tech Holdings, the company that operates the Shenzhen factory through its subsidiary, City Toys, has not returned repeated phone calls.

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