[Press release]

Students in Mainland China Chilled by Disney’s Sweatshops

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) is delighted to know that Students Disney Watch, initiated by a group of university students Mainland China, was formed in May 2009 concerning the corporate social responsibility of Disney. According the Students Disney Watch, its establishment is inspired by the initiative of SACOM to fight against sweatshops in China. On 27 November, the group proudly published its first report pinpointing the labour rights violations in suppliers of Disney, titled Mickey Mouse Is No Longer Lovely: Labour Issues at Disney’s Suppliers (available in Chinese on its blog: http://disneyxiaozu.blog.163.com; summary in English can be downloaded at http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/sdw-labour-report_summary.pdf). Since the release of the report, it has been widely circulated on internet and attracted press coverage. From the information on its blog, more reports are to be released in coming weeks.

The Students Disney Watch is comprised of 10 university students, but they dare to fight against one of the most renowned corporations in China. SACOM would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to the students who investigated the suppliers of Disney as undercover workers in their summer vacation. They investigated 5 suppliers in Shenzhen and Dongguan of the Guangdong Province, including toy, stationery, metal badges and sporting goods factories. As such, the students can get the first hand information from the factories concerned and even comprehended the same grievances as other workers. These experiences deeply imprinted in the mind of every student workers. “Sweatshop” was the concluding remark after working in the factories.

In their report concerning labour rights violations, students pinpointed the problems of high rate of work-related injury, inadequate occupational safety measures, excessive overtime work, deduction of wages, no labour contract heavy punitive fine and so on. Among the violations, work related injury is rampant. For example, at Dream International factory, the injured workers did not get compensation in accordance with the Regulation on Work-related Injury Insurances. A female worker injured twice was even sacked by the factory.

These are not only incompatible with the code of conduct of Disney, but also serious violations of the labour laws of China.

The Students Disney Watch produced this report with good faith to improve the labour rights in its suppliers in China. To this end, the group demands Disney to:

1. strictly comply with the labour laws, especially to sign contract with workers, pay workers timely and without deduction. Compensate the worker if their wages are deducted by suppliers;

2. compensate the injured workers in accordance with law. Improve the working conditions and provide free pre-post trainings on occupational safety, as well as personal protective equipment to workers in order to preclude work-related injury and occupational disease,

3. distribute the code of conduct to each worker at Disney suppliers in China together with the hotline of Disney;

4. support workers to defend for their rights;

5. publish the supplier lists in China;

6. promise not to adopt “cut and run” approach to evade responsibility.

In support of Students Disney Watch, SACOM urges Disney to look into the violations disclosed by the group and assist the suppliers to rectify them. And we look forward that similar initiatives will be mushroom in China.