Tragic

Merry...Unemployment

Santa’s elves aren’t even elves, and they certainly don’t live at the north pole. They’re Chinese migrant workers employed in the Dickensian toy factories of Dongguan, and this year they’re out of work, according to the Telegraph. Usually fall and summer are the biggest months for toy factories, but this year fully half of the region’s toy exporters – about 3,900 companies, went bust. Rising production and transport costs squeezed China’s manufacturers even before the global financial meltdown dealt the final blow. The country’s unemployment rate is four percent out of a workforce 800 million strong, although experts think the rate has been underestimated, considering that 150 million people are migrant workers. Whatever Christmas cheer there might have been, has been replaced by workers’ anger. Seven thousand employees of Smart Union protested for back wages outside its factory, until the local government stepped in and paid them with 2.1 million pounds of public money. Hundreds of workers have demonstrated outside the city government’s office, and there have been other sit-ins and protests across the region. The only real winners are area children, who could scavenge from the piles of toys that Smart Union abandoned in its warehouse.