Exclusive: Lifting the lockdown – Carmel Giblin on the current status of Chinese toy factories

Published on: 6th May 2020

Carmel is the CEO & president of the ICTI Ethical Toy Program. 

Carmel Giblin

While China slowly returns to something resembling normality, much of the rest of the world is still under lockdown conditions. We caught up with Carmel Giblin to find out what effect this is having on Chinese toy manufacturers, and what the non-profit organisation is doing to help.

We asked Carmel where Chinese factories are currently with regard to production backlogs. She explained, In general, factories have addressed all backlogs and production is up to date. We’re seeing a divide when it comes to the current status of factories, though. Around 30% are very busy with orders, these being the ones manufacturing particularly sought-after products.

However, these factories report labour shortages and challenges in recruitment, for two reasons. Firstly, ongoing travel restrictions linger in some areas, and secondly, some workers are nervous about returning to work. There’s a very real fear of future illness, or another wave of the virus coming through. Toy World readers may have seen from the general press that China is going to extreme lengths to make sure Covid-19 doesn’t return. The low number of cases reported is surprising and at odds with reported cases in other countries especially when you consider the number of people who live there and their proximity to one another. Workers who have returned tell us they are worried about getting ill. Factory management needs to understand and respond to their concerns and show that the factory is doing everything in its power to minimise the likelihood of infection.”

Carmel went on to speak about the long-term outlook for Chinese manufacturing and what the industry can do to help: “We’d encourage the whole toy industry to work with us, and with the factories in our programme, to avoid duplication of effort or additional cost,” Carmel expalined. ” At a time when the industry really needs clarity, effective communication, support and reduced financial outlay, collaborating on the common goals of protecting workers and supporting industry recovery would be a big help to all involved, including us. IETP is a relatively small not-for-profit organisation, and our main income is from factories. When factory numbers go down so does our income, but we need to ensure we can sustain ourselves for the benefit of the entire toy industry. We’re not asking for handouts, but the toy industry can certainly help us by asking their factories to join our programme – in turn, this helps the factories, the workers, their families, and the buyers themselves. From a labour standards perspective, this means we can continue to be the trusted voice of the global toy industry.”

To read the full interview with Carmel, which was published in the May issue of Toy World, click here.


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