For Western kids, the Disney brand represents a magical fantasy world of singing animals, goofy antics, and increasingly empowered princesses. For Chinese kids, however, Disney means working 14 hour days, handling dangerous chemicals, and being forced to meet high production quotas. Yes, some of the adorable Disney toys that line American shelves are made by child laborers in China.
According to a report by China Labor Watch, children under 16 were recently found in two factories making products for Disney. One group of children was making Winnie the Pooh and Piglet baby toys, and the other Disney dolls and stamps. The underage workers were forced to work arduous overtime hours, sometimes up to 150 hours a month beyond their already demanding schedule. Workers in the Disney supplier factories also had to handle dangerous chemicals -- that they used to produce children's toys -- without protective gear. The tiniest infractions, including failure to wear a hat on the work floor or keep a tidy dorm room, earned workers heavy fines and strict penalties, up to and including termination. Reality for the Chinese youth in these Disney factories was a far cry from the fantasy they were helping create for other children.
Ask Disney to make its supply chain fully transparent, to allow independent organizations to participate in monitoring, and to give shareholders access to all information regarding labor practices and suppliers. Disney should be magical for all children, not just those lucky enough to escape a life of child labor in one of their factories.