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Tell Disney Workers Rights are Important
2002-06-27, 7:57 p.m.

From Resistivity--

From time to time I like to check up on Disney to see if they are doing the right thing by their workers around the world. As usual, I have found that they are not. Here is the most recent information I can find from the National Labor Committee.

Check out Disney's latest actions in Bangladesh and then have a look at this link for more information about actions, etc.


Source: National Labor Committee, May 23, 2002



For the last 8 years, young women at the Shah Makhdum factory in Bangladesh have been forced to work over 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, denied maternity benefits, beaten and paid just 15 cents for every $17.99 Disney shirts they sewed.

When the women stood up for their rights and denounced the violations, Disney responded by cutting and running, pulling its work from the factory and dumping the women on the street with nothing, penny less, facing hunger and misery.

Disney owes these workers more than that.

We must press Disney to stay in Bangladesh while working with its contractor clean up the factory and finally guarantee that the human and worker rights of these women will be respected!


*On Friday, May 17, 30 students from New York area high schools leafleted Disney's "Lion King" show on Broadway. Accompanied by Winnie the Pooh, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, they created quite a stir!

*On Monday, 50 Vermont high school students signed a letter to Michael Eisner demanding that - after eight years of producing in the factory - Disney not cut and run, but rather stay and work with its contractor in Bangladesh to improve conditions at the Shah Makhdum factory. The Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance plans several actions at Disney Stores.


1. Send a letter to Disney (sample letter below).

2. Plan an action at a local Disney store or event.

3. Educate your classmates, church members, and co-workers.


Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, pays himself $133 million a year, or about $63,000 and hour. It would take a worker in Bangladesh sewing Disney garments for 12 cents an hour 210 years to earn what Eisner does in an hour.



Mr. Michael Eisner

Chief Executive Officer

Walt Disney Company

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

Dear Mr. Eisner:

We appeal to you and the Walt Disney Company to do the right thing-do not cut and run from the Shah Makhdum factory in Bangladesh, but rather stay and work with your contractor to clean up the factory and to finally guarantee that human and worker rights will be respected. The women in Bangladesh need these jobs, and the worst thing you could do is to pull out, dumping the workers on the street, penniless, facing hunger and misery.

By cutting and running, the real message the Walt Disney Company sends is that if any women, anywhere, dare to stand up to ask for their rights they will be fired and left with nothing. We must urge you to act immediately, since time is running out for these women and their children.

For the last seven to eight years, Disney's Winnie the Pooh garments have been sewn at the Shah Makhdum factory in Bangladesh. Disney production, always the majority of work in the factory, often accounted for 85 percent of the total. For all these long years, the rights of the mostly young women sewing your garments have been systematically and seriously violated.

Women report being hit and punched, and being denied maternity leave and benefits.

The women were forced to work 14 to 15 hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., seven days a week, often going for more than ten weeks without a single day off.

Workers were paid just five cents for every $17.99 Winnie the Pooh shirt they sewed for Disney. These are starvation wages, trapping the women in abject misery.

It is typical for four women to be forced to share one tiny room, often without bedding-sleeping directly on the floor, lacking running water or toilets, and unable to purchase even the most basic food necessities. As shipping dates for the Disney orders approached, it was common for the women to be forced to work 20-hour all night shifts, from 8:00 a.m. straight through to 4:00 a.m. the next day, after which they would sleep curled up in a ball under their sewing machines, only to get up a few hours later to start their next shift again at 8:00 a.m.

For the last seven to eight years, the women sewing your Disney garments worked in a climate of repression, intimidation and fear, in which their most fundamental rights were violated on a daily basis.

When these women could not take any more, and stood up to publicly denounce the abuses, the Disney Company's response has been to cut and run, pulling your production from the factory. As we mentioned earlier, this is the worst thing you could do. Disney owes these women justice, not punishment.

This is why we urge you to immediately return Disney's work to the Shah Makhdum factory, while working with your contractor to clean up the factory and finally guarantee that the human and worker rights of these women will be respected.

This would be the right thing to do.

These women definitely need their jobs, but they want to be treated as human beings, not animals.

Some of us have been in contact with your Disney Corporate Compliance Office, where we have been told that the Walt Disney Company cannot order any of your suppliers, such as Jerry Leigh, to return to a factory, such as Shah Makhdum. We are not asking you to order the Jerry Leigh Company to do anything. However, we know very well that if you, Mr. Eisner, seriously asked the Jerry Leigh Company, and other suppliers, to return to the Shah Makhdum factory-that this is very important to you and the Disney company-they would surely do so. No contractor is going to challenge a company with the size and power of Walt Disney. Some of us have also been in contact with your supplier, the Jerry Leigh Company, and have been told that they are pulling out of Shah Makhdum due to concerns over quality control problems.

Is it a mere coincidence that after eight years of production at the factory, these quality control problems just happen to appear after the workers publicly denounce the repression and abuse?

Does this mean that for the last eight years Disney has been producing very poor quality garments for sale to the U.S. people? We do not believe you would do so.

Mr. Eisner, you and the Walt Disney Company now have the opportunity to do the right thing while creating a model factory which will set a new higher standard for all of Bangladesh. The owner of the Shah Makhdum factory is so concerned about losing your Disney orders that he is willing to immediately institute major improvements and take concrete steps which will turn his factory into a model operation.

For the first time ever-unprecedented in any of Bangladesh's 3,500 garment export factories-the owner of Shah Makhdum will open his factory to independent verification by well-respected local religious, human and women's rights organizations to guarantee compliance with all Bangladeshi and internationally recognized worker rights laws.

These NGO monitors will have an office inside the factory. This is unheard of in Bangladesh, and could create a new model, one based on respect for law, which could set a new higher standard for all of Bangladesh's 3,500 factories employing 1.8 million garment workers.

Mr. Eisner, please do not allow the Disney Company to walk away from this opportunity to do the right thing. At stake is a chance to improve the lives and return dignity to countless women workers and their families.

We urge you to act immediately.

We are anxious to hear your response so that we can share it with our colleagues across the country. Thank you.


(Your Name and Contact Information)


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