By Mick Duncan
Anti-sweatshop activists are targeting Disney to mark International Women' Day on 8 March. Women' Day is a chance to show solidarity with women workers across the world -and what better way than to highlight the plight of many tens of thousands of women workers who slave for Mickey Mouse?
The Disney corporation is an enormous, hugely profitable empire. Last year its profits were $1.27 billion, with a revenue of $27 billion. Disney clothes and toys are made in 50,000 factories across the world.
Disney has made its CEO Michael Eisner very wealthy. The business magazine Forbes estimated him to be worth $800 million in 2000.
In 2002 370 young Bangladeshi women lost their jobs after complaining of beatings and 15-hour days. The women had been working for a Disney contractor. They had been paid five cents for each $17.99 Disney shirt they made.
In 1996 Disney subcontractors in Haiti were found to be paying 28 cents an hour.
In May 2002 Li Chunmei, a young Chinese woman, was literally worked to death in a Chinese sweatshop. She had been sewing Mickey Mouse toys for 16-19 hours a day.
Eisner is currently worrying about a $30 billion hostile takeover bid from cable giant Comcast. We aim to give him something else to think about.
Protests are being set up in a number of towns across the UK.
Leaflets, petitions and props can be downloaded from the No Sweat web site.
Speakers can be booked for labour movement and student meetings: phone 07904 431959.
Toys of misery
A new report on toy factory conditions in China paints a horrifying picture of long hours, unsafe conditions and low pay. Toys of Misery is a report by National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch into the He Yi factory in China, which makes toys for Wal-Mart, Disney and Hasbro. It also makes the 'Bobblehead' dolls of major basketball and American football players.
The report reveals that workers are paid less than the minimum wage, with mandatory overtime, obligatory seven-day working weeks, and 18-20 hour shifts. Wages are as low as $16.75 for a seven-day, 100-hour-plus work week.
The report also revealed how factory managers have tried to cover up poor conditions when company monitors visited the factory. Management produced a 'cheat sheet' for a visit by Wal-Mart inspectors earlier this month.
- The Toys of Misery 2004 report can be downloaded here