(en)Disney & McDonald's Linked to $0.06/Hour Sweatshop in

Lyn Gerry (linjin@tao.ca)
Sun, 4 May 1997 23:22:28 pst


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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 16:48:54 -0700 (PDT) To: clr From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Disney & McDonald's Linked to $0.06/Hour Sweatshop in Vietnam

URGENT ACTION ALERT! Disney & McDonald's Linked to $0.06/Hour Sweatshop in Vietnam

Summary: Seventeen year old women are forced to work 9 to 10 hours a day, seven days a week, earning as little as six cents an hour in the Keyhinge factory in Vietnam making the popular giveaway promotional toys, many of which are Disney characters, for McDonald's Happy Meals. After working a 70 hour week, some of the teenage women take home a salary of only $4.20! In February, 200 workers fell ill, 25 collapsed and three were hospitalized as a result of chemical exposure.

Background: Included in the Happy Meals sold at McDonalds are small toys based on characters from Disney films. According to McDonald's senior vice president Brad Ball, the Happy Meals characters from the "101 Dalmations" movie were the most successful in McDonald's history. Ball adds, "As we embark on our new global alliance, we anticipate ten great years of unbeatable family fun as customers enjoy 'the magic of Disney' only at McDonald's" (PR Newswire Associates, March 19, 1997).

Located in Da Nang City, Vietnam, the Keyhinge Toys Co. Factory employs approximately 1,000 people, 90 percent of whom are young women 17 to 20 years old. Overtime is mandatory: shifts of 9 to 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Wage rates average between six cents and eight cents an hour--well below subsistence levels. Overcome by fatigue and poor ventilation in late February, 200 women fell ill, 25 collapsed and three were hospitalized as a result of exposure to acetone. Acute or prolonged exposure to acetone, a chemical solvent, can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, damage to the liver and kidneys and chronic eye, nose, throat and skin irritation.

All appeals from local human and labor rights groups continue to be rejected by Keyhinge management which refuses to improve the ventilation system in the factory or remedy other unsafe working conditions. Along with demanding forced overtime, Keyhinge management has not made legally mandated payments for health insurance coverage for its employees, who now receive no compensation for injury or sickness.

Many of the young women at the Keyhinge factory making McDonald's/Disney toys earn just 60 cents after a 10 hour shift. The most basic meal in Vietnam--rice, vegetables, and tofu--costs 70 cents. Three meals would cost $2.10. Wages do not even cover 20 per cent of the daily food and travel costs for a single worker, let alone her family.

Action requested:

Call, fax or write:

James R. Cantalupo, President McDonald's Corp 1 McDonald's Plaza Oakbrook, IL 60521 Tel: (630) 623-3000 Fax: (630) 623-7409

Micheal Eisner, Chief Executive Officer Walt Disney Company 500 South Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521 Tel: (818) 560-1000 Fax: (818) 560-1930

McDonald's contracts its toy production through MB Sales, which subcontracts the work to Keyhinge Industrial:

Al Aguilara, President MB Sales 918 North Ashland Ave. Tel: (312) 819-0045

Include in your message the following demands:

McDonald's and Disney must immediately intervene at the Key hinge Toy factories in Vietnam and China.

1. Under the guidance of qualified occupational health and safety professionals, steps should be taken to correct unsafe working conditions, especially with regard to poor ventilation and exposure to chemicals.

2. McDonald's-Disney and MB Sales should open these factories to independent monitoring by respected local non-governmental human and labor rights organizations to verify compliance with fundamental human rights.

3. McDonald's, Disney and MB Sales must seriously address the plight of these factory workers suffering under sub-subsistance wages and move toward paying at least subsistance-level wages.

4. McDonald's and Disney should join and work with the White House Task Force to end sweatshop abuses around the world.

Model Letter to McDonald's

James R. Cantalupo, President McDonald's Corporation 1 McDonald's Plaza Oak Brook, IL 60521 Fax: (630) 623-7409

Dear Mr. Cantalupo:

I urge you to immediately intervene at the Keyhinge Toy factories

in Vietnam and China which are producing toys for McDonald's. There are serious and persistent violations occurring in these factories, including unsafe exposure to chemicals; mandatory workshifts stretching from 9 to 15 hours a day seven days a week; failure to pay legally mandated benefits, and wage rates as low as 6 cents an hour-- which do not even cover 20 percent of a worker's daily food and transportation costs, not to mention her family's needs.

I hope you will move swiftly to address and correct these abusive conditions. Occupational safety and health professionals should immediately correct unsafe working conditions, especially exposure to toxic chemicals. A concrete effective step McDonald's could take to support human rights would be to open these factories to independent monitoring by respected local, non-governmental human and labor rights organizations which would guarantee respect for human rights.

I am sure McDonald's is horrified to learn that its 'Happy Meals' are linked to sltarvation wages of teenage women in Vietnam and China. I hope that McDonald's will join the discussion tying wage rates to a worker's basic subsistance needs, and lead the industry to move in that direction. I urge you to join and work with the President's Task Force to end sweatshop abuses around the world.

McDonald's has the leadership and visibility to help change the world and make this a better place for all of us. I am anxious to know what steps you will take. Thank you.

Sincerely, Your Name

For more information about this Alert, contact: Maggie Poe, National Labor Committee, 275 7th Ave., New York, NY 10001; Tel: (212) 242- 3002.

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