Disney & Sweatshops in China


From on-line news source The Raw Story: Labour campaigners accuse Disney of using sweatshop factories

Labour rights campaigners have protested outside Hong Kong’s Disney theme park accusing Disney of using sweatshop factories in China, a news report said Monday. Workers at three factories making Disney merchandise in China’s southern Guangdong province are being paid below the minimum wage and forced to work up to 14 hours a day, according to the protestors.

Nothing really “new”, here. Disney has faced this kind of criticism for years, as have many other companies. Monitoring labour practices throughout a supply-chain is no trivial task, though clearly some companies do better at it than others. Some companies, such as Nike, were notorious offenders back in the early days of the anti-sweatshop movement but have turned themselves into model citizens. Disney is generally not thought of as being among the success stories.

What should managers of multinational corporations learn from stories like this one? I guess one lesson is that conditions in your factories will be monitored, either by you or by someone else. Wouldn’t it be better for you to monitor & manage your own supply chain, rather than waiting for an NGO to do it for you?

Related Links:
From the China CSR website: Hong Kong Disneyland In Middle Of Sweatshop Protest
The Maquila Solidarity Network’s Disney page.
Here’s my review of A Decent Factory, a film about the practical and ethical complexities of monitoring supply-chain labour standards.

And in related news…Disney tops BusinessWeek list. Interesting, huh?

Relevant Books:
Rising above Sweatshops: Innovative Approaches to Global Labor Challenges
Students Against Sweatshops: The Making of a Movement
Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops
Disney War

2 comments so far

  1. Susan Herod on

    Hi Chris. I was researching a paper on Disney and noticed a big section on International Labor Standards on their website before finding your blog entry. I was curious if you think they have become more proactive and/or successful since you posted in 2006. Or is this just a case of corporate CYA with no real program of oversight?http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/cr_international_labor_standards.html

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    Susan:I honestly don’t know. I just haven’t followed DIsney’s story at all over the last couple of years. Thanks for the link, though.Regards,Chris.


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