Disney suppliers accused of labor abuse

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HONG KONG -- Hundreds of people are making stuffed Walt Disney toys at a factory in southern China up to 16 hours a day with only a few days off a month, a Hong Kong-based labor activist group said Wednesday.

"During the peak season, before Christmas, workers at the factory start at 8 a.m. and don't finish until midnight," said Jenny Chan, an activist with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior.

Chan said the Tianyu Toys factory in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan regularly holds back workers' wages for up to 45 days, and paid overtime of 40 cents an hour, less than half the rate set by Chinese labor laws.

She said this prompted a mass strike in September, but that management had only increased overtime pay to 47 cents an hour.

Alannah Goss, spokeswoman for Walt Disney Co. (Asia Pacific) Ltd., confirmed that Tianyu Toys supplied goods to some of its licensees, but declined to give specific details or comment on the allegations.

"The Walt Disney Company and its affiliates deal with claims of unfair labor practices very seriously, and investigates all allegations thoroughly," she said in an e-mail response to The Associated Press.

Tianyu's general manager rejected the allegations of labor violations, but would not reveal details about staff wages.

"I don't want to comment in detail. Our factory strictly adheres to local labor regulations. I'm the general manager here and I haven't heard any of our workers complaining about the factory," Man Wong said.

The activist group has previously accused factories in southern China that are churning out goods for Disney and other global brands of overworking laborers and skimping on pay and benefits.

About a dozen activists demonstrated outside Hong Kong Disneyland on Tuesday night to protest alleged labor abuses at the Tianyu factory.
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