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A cold winter for laid-off toy factory workers
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As the economic crisis rages around the world, there is no escape for China. Of its industries, the toy OBM business (original brand manufacturing) is the biggest victim. According to customs statistics, Guangdong Province, the biggest toy producer in China exported US$4.47 billion toy products in the first three quarters, down 16.2 percent from the same period of last year.

Guangdong's Dongguan, an area hosting 50 to 60 percent of China's toy businesses has seen international economic woes begin to make inroads into its own economy. On October 15, two large toy factories located in Zhangmutou, a town in Dongguan, declared bankruptcy, leaving about 7,000 people out of job. The factories were owned by the Smart Union Group Holdings Ltd, a well-known toy OBM giant and their shutdown took everyone by surprise. Some of the laid-off workers have successfully found new jobs over the last month. But many of them remain jobless and confused, with hopes fading of new employment.

He Chunxia, a former employee of Junling Toy Factory shows her employment card in her rented house in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

He Chunxia, a former employee of Junling Toy Factory shows her employment card in her rented house in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. [China Youth Daily]

He Chunxia is one of them. Recalling the day she lost her job, she said it was a devastating experience. "The factory was operating in full gear before the shutdown. I finished my shift at 2 AM that day and returned to my dormitory. I hardly expected to be jobless by the time I woke up." As a veteran employee, she had worked in Junling Toy Factory, one of the two bankrupt factories under the Smart Union Group, for 12 years and had been promoted to supervisor. Being kicked out was a bolt from the blue.

After losing her job, Ms He moved out of the dormitory in the factory to a rented and poorly decorated house without so much as a decent bed, living with her son. Every day, she went out to look for a job but returned tired and crestfallen. "In my circumstances, I have no other choice than to take the lowest level jobs with very poor pay. Starting from zero for me is totally unacceptable," she said.

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