Date
17 January 2017
Disney is being accused of lax oversight over Chinese factories that supply many of its merchandising products. Photo: Bloomberg
Disney is being accused of lax oversight over Chinese factories that supply many of its merchandising products. Photo: Bloomberg

Disney faces heat over worker conditions at China suppliers

Walt Disney Co., which is set to open its US$5.5 billion Shanghai theme park on Thursday, has come under fire from labor rights groups over worker conditions at some of its Chinese suppliers.

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based rights advocacy group, said it found that some workers at eight Disney suppliers were forced to work long hours and paid wages below the minimum legal requirement.

Injury levels were also high because of old machinery and a lack of training or protective equipment, the group said, according to Reuters.

In a separate report, China Labor Watch cited issues at two other factories, including low wages, exposure to chemicals and ineffective audits of working conditions by clients.

Both SACOM and China Labor Watch pointed out that their investigations, which involved working undercover at the factories, had only covered a fraction of suppliers to Disney, which raked in US$52.5 billion last year worldwide, including US$4.5 billion from consumer products. 

SACOM said it found that the supplier firms withheld full overtime payments, fined workers for taking leave, and often employed staff without an official contract. 

The group criticized Disney for lax oversight of the supplier factories and for third-party inspections being flagged in advance.

The factories made products such as branded bags, hair clips and mugs.

A Disney spokeswoman told Reuters that her firm takes “seriously claims of labor standards violations against the independent facilities producing Disney-branded products”.

“It is our practice to thoroughly investigate those allegations and assist facilities in remediation efforts and comply with local regulations,” she said. 

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