Rights group attacks 'worker exploitation'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 August, 1999, 12:00am

A labour rights groups attacked the proposed Disney theme park yesterday, accusing the company of exploiting workers at toy and souvenir factories on the mainland.

The Christian Industrial Committee held a protest outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where a Disney stage show, Mickey's Magical Tour, was being held. The sponsor, Disney Consumer Products, was also selling Disney merchandise.

Seven members of the group chanted 'no workers' rights, no Disney' as hundreds of families queued to enter.

'We want Hong Kong people to know exactly what happens in the production of the Disney products. They have the right to know if it produces damage to the environment or to the community,' said group associate director Chan Ka-wai.

Mr Chan has described conditions in Disney factories on the mainland, in Macau and Vietnam as 'appalling', citing an investigation this year during which the group found factories in Panyu, Guangzhou and Dongguan, where more than 1,000 workers spent up to 16 hours a day at their work posts, seven days a week.

In some cases, five hours' overtime yielded only a few cents' extra pay, it was alleged.

Employees could be fined for lateness or for taking time off, while some had to pay a deposit when they took the job. In one factory this payment was only refundable after two years' employment.

Workers were often paid several months late, or paid only a fraction of what was promised, campaigners said.

The group also alleged workers were exposed to toxic chemicals during manufacturing processes.

Mr Chan said the group would oppose construction of the Disney theme park. The Government is negotiating with the company to set up the park at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island.

No one from Disney was available for comment yesterday.




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