Sunday, February 10, 2013

Disney's sad sweatshop story

Have you ever heard anything about sweatshops? Do you know where and how your clothes are made? Do you want to know more?  I hope this article will make you think about problems around us won't.  Let's find out!

What is a sweatshop?

Sweatshop (or sweat factory) is a workplace in the third world with a very low pay by our standards and very poor working conditions. Sweatshops exploit their workers whose basic worker rights are not respected. Unfortunately, not only adults work in such "hell", child labor is active too. Many popular companies use cheap labour force, in this list there are such big companies as  Reebok, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Ikea,  Adidas, Starbucks, Puma, Gap, Apple, Disney, etc. 

Let's take a Disney sweatshop.

Disney has a sad sweatshop history. There were many scandals and accidents even suicides connected with unfair relation to workers on their factories.

Here is some examples of different Disney factories. (all information taken from reliable sources)


  • Workers as young as 14 years old
  • Young people are forced to work 10-13 hours a day producing Disney’s children’s books six or seven days a week.
  • The workers are paid 33 to 41 cents an hour.
  • It is common for the workers to be cheated of their overtime pay.
  • Workers have no health insurance or pension.
  • At one factory, there are four to five accidents a week. Many people have lost their fingers. "But instead of doing something about the machines, the factory just hires new workers. And the accidents simply continue."
  • Factories coach workers on how to answer inspectors' questions.


  • Workers paid 5 cents an hour when Pooh shirts sell for $17.99.
  • Workers are forced to work 14-hour days, seven days a week.
  • Workers are beaten if they do not meet quotas.
  • Speaking is prohibited.
  • Disney pulled out of factory after employees publicly complained about poor working conditions.


  • Workers earn 30 cents an hour.
  • Employs workers under the legal age.

Disney is only one of the companies that  use cheap labour force to produce their products. But how to stop them? 

However, if the workers would be paid well it means that prices will increase. So, are we ready to pay more to have a happy ending for others?

Firstly, adults that are working there just do not have another alternatives, but what about children? There is no fun for them. They are working for a whole day, they do not have any possibilities to have any education. "Bringing smiles to children is what Disney is known for, and working with UNICEF to help achieve this goal is something we are very proud to do." said one of the company's representative, when Disney donated $1million dollars for UNICEF.   I think it is just a deception for us and attempt to hush up the scandal.  Maybe the UN or another global organization need to start actions to prevent children labour. But the main problem of sweatshop issue is poverty, if there were not be need of money people wouldn't work in such terrible conditions. So, this problem won't be easy to solve, as during many years we are trying  to stop poverty.

Secondly, there is no benefits of closing sweatshops as a lot of people think. If the sweatshop closed, many people wouldn't have a work, which means they wouldn't have any money and it will be hard to find a new job, as they went to work in the sweatshop because they hadn't got any alternatives.

Finally, I think the right way is to make employers to pay appropriate salaries, to respect workers rights. But to achieve this goal people all over the world must start think about this problem and take measures. 

*the information about sweatshops in different countries was taken from yhis sources:
      -National Labor Committee 
  -Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior 
    -National Labor Committee (pdf)
 -Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 3, 1996