The Dark World of Disney
Li Qiang's Open Letter
Disney’s fairytales are all stories of heroes who defeat the wicked, with a prince saving the princess, and good triumphing over evil. However, these are all beautiful fairytale stories, but the truth behind the manufacture of Disney’s toys is far different.
The manufacturing process of Disney toys in China, is a process of oppressing Chinese workers. At the Zhen Yang Toy factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province, where Frozen products are manufactured, many thousands of workers labor every day for 12 hours. Some work non-stop for periods of 11 hours, with only a one hour meal and rest break in between. 16 workers share a 16 square meter dormitory room. Each floor of the dormitory building has 20 rooms. 320 workers share 24 toilets and 24 bathrooms. The bathrooms have no hot water, only cold water. There are no showerheads, and workers have to use a bucket or pan to take a bath. Workers earn 8.68RMB/hour ($1.32USD/hour), and working a total of 172 hours, this amounts to 1510RMB ($230USD). Workers are forced to work overtime every day. During the off season, workers hope to have more opportunities to work overtime. Without overtime, the base wage is insufficient to cover workers costs of living.
This factory is not the only case. Previously, China Labor Watch underwent investigations in dozens of factories which manufactured for Disney, and the working conditions were similar. As a non-governmental organization, our resources are very limited. The factories we investigate are only 0.1% of Disney’s network of 30,000 facilities involved in the production of Disney products.(This number is from the Walt Disney Company.For details please refer to the full report attached below) However, Disney often critiques us for a litany of reasons. In 2015, Disney released a letter to the public which stated: “In November 2015, China Labor Watch (CLW) raised concerns regarding five toy manufacturing facilities in China used by several leading brands – Combine Will (Donnguan) Industrial Co. Inc., Dongguan Qing Xi Juantiway Plastic Factory, Foshan City Nanhai Mattel Diecast Co. Ltd., Sturdy Precision Manufacturing (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., and Jetta (Guangzhou) Industrial Co. Ltd. We are disappointed that CLW continues its approach of withholding information about such concerns until they issue press releases months after issues are identified and does not actively engage with buyers and others that share their concern for improving labor standards in Chinese factories.”
However, this is not the case. China Labor Watch is not unwilling to cooperate with Disney. Since 2007, CLW has had face-to-face meetings with Disney on more than 10 occasions. A Disney Representative had an interview with CLW at our New York office, and CLW had many meetings with Disney’s Californian Headquarters and Hong Kong Office. Through the meetings CLW had with Disney’s executive vice president, and the Director of Labor Standards—coupled with many years of direct communication—we found that Disney lacked sincerity in their efforts to improve working conditions in their Chinese suppliers. Disney frequently criticizes our investigations, claiming that they are only single cases. However, CLW has the capacity to investigate only a very limited number of factories. Disney has not made improvements to the systemic labor rights violations of Chinese workers.
The beautiful world of Disney is merely a fairytale. The real world is one where evil has triumphed over good, and where profits triumph conscience. It is the management behind Disney who are the real villains in this world of fairytales. It is they who have created a system where management is able to oppress workers and obtain the greatest amount of economic profits. We need those who seek justice to come together and fight the villains in the world of Disney, to create a world where Disney is wholeheartedly kind and just.
Please write a letter or give a call to Disney, or speak to friends who embrace the world of Disney. Encourage them to participate in this battle with the villains of Disney.
Robert Iger, ruler of the dark Disney empire
We launched a petition campaign and urged as many as ten thousands people to write to him, however we never got a response from him.
The two companies that China Labor Watch investigated in Dongguan, Guangdong, namely Lam Sun Plastic Products Co. Ltd and Zhenyang Toy Co. Ltd, are companies whose behaviors meet our description mentioned above. Zhengyang;s clients include: Disney, MGA Entertainment, Smoby, NSI International, Buengna, Black+Decker, 3D Coin Art, and Lamsung's clients include Disney, Famosa, Spin Master, Crayola, Air hogs. Both of these factories have passed Disney's International Labor Standards audits and are authorized to make Disney products. (See the pictures below Disney's conduct of Code pasted on these two factories' workshops) Also, many of these toys are sold in Wal-mart. Through our undercover investigation, we found many problems with the working conditions. When international companies are enjoying high profits from low labor costs, we should remember that Chinese workers are suffering unbearable working conditions.
(Disney Conduct of Code in Zhenyang) (Disney Conduct of Code in Lam Sun)
(Lodging conditions in Disney's supplier factories in Dongguan. The pictures about Disneyland and Disney products are from its official websites. Pictures about working conditions are taken by CLW investigator in Zhenyang and Lam Sun factories in May 2016. The same below)
(Dining hall and canteen kitchen in Disney's supplier factories)
(Workers who were making Disney products in Zhenyang factory)
Toy Brands for Which We Found Zhenyang and Lam Sun Were Manufacturing
（From left to right：Crayola, F-toys, Paw Patrol, )
（Spin Master, Fomasa, Bizak)
(Air Hogs, Lalaloopsy-MGA Entertainment, Sunny, Bob the builder)
(Disney Princess, Frozen, Twisted Tie Die)
(Super Wubble, 3D Coin Art)
Summary of Zhenyang
(Job applicants waiting in front of Zhenyang recruit site)
(Workers at a workshop of Zhenyang)
(Workers at a workshop of Zhenyang)
(The two photos on the left are rest room. The two on the right are shower room)
(A Panoramic view of shower room)
(Qimeng glue-the chemical that workers have contact with every day)
This is our second investigation on Zhenyang, with the first one conducted in 2015. In 2015, in response to our report on Zhenyang and the other four Disney suppliers, Disney criticized us for not contacting them in advance. It said that, "We are disappointed that CLW continues its approach of withholding information about such concerns until they issue press releases months after issues are identified and does not actively engage with buyers and others that share their concern for improving labor standards in Chinese factories." However, it has been half a year since the previous being released and Disney being informed, we still don't see any improvement happening in Zhenyang.
During peak season, workers work 11 hours a day, 66 hours per week, far beyond the maximum work hours stipulated by China’s labor laws.
Just like Lam Sun, workers’ base wages are too low, only 8.7 RMB/hour, or 1.3 USD/hour. During the off season, workers’ monthly income is only around 308 USD.
On workers’ first day, pre-employment training of two hours was given, but the attendance sheet for this training indicated that this period ought to be 7.5 hours.
Zhenyang workers work with toxic chemicals, but during pre-employment training there was little content concerning occupational safety, and workers did not receive proper protection either.
In the assembly department where our investigator worked, no protection equipment was offered other than a work hat.
Leave and sick leave are restrained by the factory. During the off season, workers must apply for leave one day in advance. In the peak season, applications for leave and sick leave hardly get approved even when they apply in advance.
Labor contracts are equivalent to a form. The factory has already drafted the contract, and all workers need to do is to fill out their personal information and sign.
When signing the overtime section of a guarantee, the training officer required all workers to check the “I’m willing to work overtime” option without asking them if they were willing to do so.
Dormitories are poorly equipped, with each room containing eight bunk beds, four fans, and nothing else.
Equipment in the dormitory building is old. For example, pipes are made of iron and rusted, and rust is often visible in the flowing water.
Food is hardly satisfying in the dining hall. The environment in the dining hall is terrible. The so-called dining hall is in fact only a separated area on the first floor of the dormitory building. Lights are dim, and many random objects are piled around the dining tables.
Summary of Lam Sun
(Workers working at a workshop)
(A female worker)
(Workers at a Lam Sun workshop)
(Lam Sun's shifts system and its regulations on working hours)
(From left to right: dormitory, dining hall, a rusty fire extinguisher, a worker's hand after working for long hours)
In Lam Sun, workers often work more than 60 hours per week, and work more than 90 overtime hours per month, which is 2.5 times higher than the upper limit on overtime hours set by China’s labor law.
Workers’ wages are abysmally low, which are only 8.7 RMB/hour, or 1.3 USD/hour in the injection department, assembly department, and printing department. Even in the spray-painting department where wages are relatively higher, they are only 9.5 RMB/hour, or 1.5 USD/hour.
When making toys, workers are exposed to a variety of toxic chemicals, but are not provided with any occupational safety training or sufficient occupational protective equipment. That is to say, workers are completely exposed to a poisonous environment for more than ten hours every day.
Workers brief lunch time is also compressed. When workers are having lunch, the automated machines on the production line do not stop. Workers have to finish lunch as soon as possible, then return to their workshops to deal with the piled up backlog of products. They are meant to have an hour and a half for lunch time, but in reality it has been compressed to only half an hour. What’s more, their work during lunch time is not paid.
Age and sex based discrimination exist during recruitment. Lam Sun only hires those who are below 40 years old, and the assembly department only recruits female workers.
Overtime is compulsory. Theoretically, workers can work overtime voluntarily, but the factory stipulates that workers must apply for not working overtime. In the application process, line managers will also try to frustrate such efforts. Thus, in reality it is very difficult for workers not to work overtime.
Food is also terrible. Workers often find foreign matters in their food, and leftovers will be resold in the next meal.
There is no real trade union in the factory. No organization exists there to protect workers’ rights.
In order to help Chinese workers who work in the toy industry obtain better treatment and the protection they deserve, China Labor Watch has published seven reports targeting the toy industry since 2010, about one report each year. This is our eighth report. In May 2016, China Labor Watch conducted an undercover investigation in Lam Sun and Zhenyang, where our investigator worked as a production line worker.
To improve the treatment of Chinese workers, international brands companies must make efforts that are commensurate to their profits. However, they will not do anything without pressure from consumers and investors. China Labor Watch needs everyone’s help to hold brand companies accountable to Chinese workers. We can write letters and share comments on social media. A simple action could make a difference.
Click here to find 176
more pictures about Zhenyang factory, and here
for 209 more pictures about Lam Sun.