Disney claims it is looking into accusations of human rights abuse at the factory in China that makes its popular Cars and Toy Story merchandise. An undercover investigation, which took place in June after a factory employee’s suicide, revealed mistreatment including child labor and excessive overtime. Although the maximum amount of overtime allowed by law is 36 hours per month, factory workers produced wage slips showing they averaged 120 extra hours per month, according to a report. Employees also cited the use of dangerous chemicals without protective equipment, which they said made them ill, and told undercover investigators that they were made to hide adhesives and thinners during audits by client companies, which also include Mattel and Walmart. Concerns about conditions at the factory, called Sturdy Products, were raised when a 45-year-old worker reportedly jumped off a building at the site after being mistreated by managers. Walmart said in July that it was investigating the suicide. Disney also is launching its own investigation at the factory.
“We take these matters impacting our licensees and business partners very seriously and will continue to evaluate this situation based upon the information available to us,” Disney told Deadline today.
Human rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, which helped investigate Sturdy Products, last year exposed abuses at Apple’s Foxconn plant in China, which had seen a spate of employee suicides. In 2010, Disney remained the top seller of licensed goods worldwide, as tracked annually by License! Global magazine, and Toy Story 3 products accounted for $2.4 billion of its haul. Cars 2 merchandise is expected to bring in $10 billion, making it the biggest movie merchandise program ever.