An investigation has revealed the multi-million dollar Middleton family business has been selling products produced by the hands of children as young as four. Party Pieces is accused of selling goods made by impoverished adult and child laborers from Mexican ghettos. Some workers were allegedly earning 10 pence (close to 15 cents US) an hour.
Carole Middleton told The Party Times:
“I came up with the idea for Party Pieces when I was looking for party paraphernalia for my own children’s parties. It was impossible to find anything easily in the shops and trying to find value for money … was a complete nightmare!”
The company is an online retailer of any-occasion party supplies. The firm offers 40 varieties of colorful piñatas for about £12.99; a popular piece often found at children’s parties. Piñatas house candy and small toys which are released when partygoers cheerfully pummel the cardboard figure with a stick in an effort to get to the goods inside.
The assemblage of the piñatas and other products is allegedly done within the homes of shanty towns surrounding the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where the region’s minimum wage laws do not apply.
Minimum wage in Mexico is around 49 pence (about 75 cents) an hour, reports The Mirror. However because the work is done within private family homes laborers make less. In addition, workers are responsible for purchasing the materials to make the piñatas from a company called Baja Pacific Paper, cutting into their already meager earnings.
The operator of Baja Pacific Paper, Javier Perez Quintero (aka Piñata King), supposedly runs operations for Amscan in Tijuana. Amscan is an American party goods company. They supply a lion’s share of goods to the British company Party Pieces, according to the Daily Mail. The association of Amscan and Baja Pacific Paper is suspicious and unclear.
Joseph Zepf, Amscan vice-president, said the company “endeavors to comply with all laws and regulations, especially those relating to wage requirements and working conditions, and categorically denies any inference or allegation to the contrary,” quotes the Telegraph. The company does acknowledge that many of its products are made outside of the United States.
A labor family of eight relatives described working like slaves. They recently toiled for 12 hours a day and earned less than 19 pence an hour between all of them. Although aware that the amount they receive is so little, there are not a lot of employment options in the area.
Representatives for Party Pieces has since responded to the serious allegations and are moving to thoroughly examine the roots of the claims as well as their suppliers.
[Image via Shutterstock]