From our China editor Paul French in Shanghai:
It all looked so good for Disney in China – finally permission to start planning a theme park near Shanghai on Chongming Island – Disney’s first theme park on the Mainland and a compliment to their Hong Kong park.
Meanwhile Disney’s English schools in China have been doing well and sales of Disney merchandise too.
Despite a recent backlash by some more nationalistic elements in China against foreign, and particularly American, companies it seemed the old adage of you ‘don’t mess with the mouse’ still held true, even in the People’s Republic of China.
Then a group of pesky students from Nanchang University decided to go and interview over 100 workers at a factory in Guangdong province making Disney products.
What they found was not so good – labour abuses, long hours, poor conditions. They compiled the interviews and issued a report with the catchy title (unless you’re a Disney executive) – Mickey Mouse is no Longer Cute.
The article linked to here is in Chinese I’m afraid but recounts the major complaints of the workers – frequent accidents, poor safety standards, arbitrarily reduced wages for workers with no consultation on wage cuts.
Annoyingly for Disney the story was picked up by the widely read Jiefang Ribao (Liberation Daily) newspaper which is solidly Party and never reports anything the censors have a problem with.