The Sweatshops That Make Disney’s Toys, Books & Clothing

TimesOnLine reports that some factory workers making Disney’s most popular Christmas toys are docked pay if they take too much time going to the bathroom (only five minutes is alloted for bathroom breaks) and are working 18 hour days for a measly 16p an hour.

Workers at the factories in southern China also claim they have had to stay in cramped dormitories housing up to 16 people. At one factory they receive just one day off a month.

John Hilary, director of policy at War on Want, said: “These toys have been produced as a result of the exploitation of some of the poorest people in the world.”

Workers also said that their 16- man dormitories had no hot water in the evenings and filthy toilets, even though they paid the company about £8.20 a month for food and accommodation.

Meng, a 23-year-old production worker who combs soft toys to remove dirt and fluff before they are put into boxes, said: “The bosses are very harsh with the workers. If you say you are tired and you don’t want to work late into the night, the manager will immediately say, ‘You are fired. Please go.’

CorpWatch who investigates and exposes corporate violations of human rights, had an article titled:  Disney sweats over sweatshop charges in China. This particular article is about 800 factory workers who were laid off and the factory they worked at shut down because the workers dared to protest, demanding back-wages and compensation.

The closure of Huang Xing came about after Disney, which accounted for over 80 per cent of the factory, pulled the plug on the relationship following damaging revelations by a Hong Kong-based labour activist group about working conditions at the factory.

In a report released in December 2006, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), a non-profit agency that works to advance workers’ rights and “monitor” corporate behaviour, revealed gross violations of Chinese labour laws and international codes of conduct relating to work safety and compensation at seven factories that manufactured Disney merchandise in southern China.

That report validated the findings of an earlier report in 2005 from SACOM that had alleged sweatshop-like working conditions in the factories. Occupational injuries were prevalent, the report alleged.

In one factory, an average of three instances of occupational injury were reported every week. In addition, workers were paid far less than the statutory minimum wage, were forced to work longer hours than required under law, and accommodated in unsanitary dormitories.

“Our findings were heartbreaking,” SACOM coordinator Jenny Chan told DNA on Wednesday. “We’d gone to study labour conditions in southern China,” which had by then become the ‘factory floor of the world’ and a pivotal link in the global supply chain of many multinationals. What the SACOM stumbled on was working-class hell.

The National Labor Committee their mission is to defendthe human rights of workers in the global economy. The NLC investigates and exposes human and labor rights abuses committed by U.S. companies producing goods in the developing world.  They put out a report on Disney’s sweatshop in Bangladesh. Here is what they found:

Workers Badly Beaten, Fired, And Imprisoned For Asking To Be Paid On Time

 • Workers routinely slapped and punched for not working fast enough;

• Forced to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with at most one day off a month;

• Mandatory 19-hour all-night shifts once a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. the following morning, after which workers sleep on factory floor;

• Forced to work 35 to 42 hours of overtime a week. Workers at the factory up to 100 hours a week. At most workers get four to five hours of sleep a night;

• Sewers paid just 11 to 20 cents an hour, as little as $5.28 a week;

• Helpers earn just seven to eight cents an hour, and $3.16 a week;

• Workers trapped in misery: four workers sharing one small hut exist on rice and must borrow money to survive;

• Workers paid just five cents for each Disney garment they sew;

• Workers routinely paid two weeks late and are cheated of one-half of legal overtime pay;

• Women denied their legal maternity benefits;

• Speaking prohibited—if caught may be docked one day’s wages;

• No health insurance, no doctor in the plant, no sick days;

• No daycare center and no place to eat;

• Drinking water is filthy;

• If late three times docked one day’s wages;

• Docked two days’ wages if they talk back to supervisors or managers. Any attempt to exercise their legal right to Freedom of Association would be met with beatings, mass firings and blacklisting;

• No one has ever heard of Disney’s so-called Code of Conduct, and have no idea what it might be;

• Corporate monitoring a joke: visits announced in advance, factory is cleaned, workers are threatened to lie about working conditions, “monitors” interview the workers inside the plant in front of supervisors and mangers. Every worker knows that she would be immediately fired if she ever spoke the truth;

• Workers report that they have no hope, no life, and that they live only to work.

On January 18, 2004, 22 workers were badly beaten, and eight imprisoned for asking to be paid on time. All 22 workers have been fired.

Disney’s sweatshop practices seem to have started approximately 13 years ago, when the New York Times did an article titled: Child-Labor Issue Ignites a Multifaceted Youthful Crusade.

In a skit put on by her fourth-grade class, Chloe Callahan-Flintoft played a shopper at a Disney Store who tells a surprised salesman, ”When I heard Disney was using unfair labor to make its products, I was sad because I buy a lot of their stuff.”

Chloe’s class at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn’s Park Slope section performed the skit several days after publishing a newspaper that included a dozen stories and puzzles about the evils of child labor.

Many children have written to Disney after contacting Mr. Kernaghan to ask about his allegations that Disney contractors pay Haitian workers 6 cents for each Pocahontas or Hunchback garment, which the company sells for $19.99.

Ken Green, a Disney spokesman, said his company pays its Haitian workers about 50 cents an hour when the minimum wage is 28 cents.

What the new “Disney” has become is not what Walt Disney had in mind or envision for the future, when he started all of this so many years ago.

Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”  Walt Disney    It’s a good thing he is not here to see what they have done to his land of magic – I believe it would break his heart.

2 thoughts on “The Sweatshops That Make Disney’s Toys, Books & Clothing

  1. It used to be. Then old Walt died. Now it is just another corporation with only corporate interests in mind.

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