Walt Disney Co. recently halted all business dealings with a Chinese toymaker and warned another of pending similar action due to reports of labor violations.
As the world’s largest entertainment company, Burbank-based Disney felt it was important enough to post a memo on their website stating that it would no longer allow Dongguan Qing Xi Juantiway Plastic Factory to manufacture products that featured Disney characters. Labor violations were flagged by China Labor Watch, which is a New York-based non-profit whose mission is to monitor overseas manufacturing.
The investigation into the practices of Dongguan Qing Xi Juantiway Plastic Factory found that the company failed to remediate hiring and human resources problems that were identified at the facility last year. This was in spite of encouragement from and a contractual obligation to Disney to comply. Disney did not share additional information on their website regarding the specific problems/issues that were identified.
Lam Sun Toy Limited Co. was also noted as failing to meet expectations for accurate record-keeping, health and safety requirements and human resources policies. The Lam Sun company will have a chance to address the issues, but if they do not bring their practices and policies into compliance, Disney plans to discontinue their relationship as well.
Labor standards abroad are a continuing problem for U.S. companies who look to their foreign partners to manufacture goods and products that are then sold around the world. Policing foreign plants is riddled with challenges. In this instance, the challenges of policing a foreign plant are compounded by the sheer size of the Disney company, as they likely license their brands to hundreds of similar foreign vendors who then contract separately with manufacturers.
Disney continues to maintain their International Labor Standards program (started in 1996) that works with companies and governmental agencies in order to prevent abuse. According to the company’s website, there are 120 people staffed in 12 different countries working to monitor and improve conditions in over 30,000 factories. Approximately 28% of the factories are found in China. Labor violations were listed by China Labor Watch in connection with five Chinese toy plants known to do business with Disney last year (including Dongguan Qing Xi Juantiway Plastic Factory). A second report was released in June by China Labor Watch indicating that Lam Sun was only hiring women for assembly jobs, lacked of safety equipment and training, and forced overtime work in excess of local limits (90 hours overtime in one month).
If you have questions or concerns on how to handle overtime issues or other employment law violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.