Disney Corporation Given 2006 Public Eye Award

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) in Hong Kong announced the Disney Corporation as the 2006 winner of the Public Eye Award. SACOM nominated Disney’s corporate misconduct for the award, which is given by the Swiss non-governmental organization, The Berne Declaration. Since the award’s inception in 2000, The Berne Declaration hopes it will counter the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, with a critical eye on the participating Corporations.

Disney, though not an official participant of the 2006 World Economic Forum, was selected for the Social Rights category of the 3 Public Eye Categories, which includes an Environmental category and Taxes category. The other corporations nominated for corporate misdeeds in human and labor rights under the Social Rights category were Coca Cola, Delta & Pine Land, FILA, GAP Inc., and Nestl�©. The Disney nomination comes after SACOM students in Hong Kong found several labor violations in Chinese factories subcontracted for production of Disney Toys.

Forced labor of 15 hour workdays in unsafe factory conditions were, as SACOM claims, in direct conflict with the Code of Conduct for manufactures Disney has on their Website. The award also brings to light that Disney has not taken to the transparency of other corporate giants like Nike by withholding publication of its suppliers. These violations occurred between May and August 2005, as the nomination deadline for the award was August 26th 2005.

SACOM first published a report to coincide with the opening of a Disneyland in Hong Kong in 2005 titled Looking for Mickey Mouse’s Conscience: A Survey of the Working Conditions of Disney’s Supplier Factories in China. Parry Leung, a SACOM member gave a detailed account of the labor violations in his acceptance speech for the award. Amongst the long 6-7 day work weeks and safety concerns, pay under legal minimum wage, cramped living conditions, lack of health insurance, pension and welfare rights, as well as denial of unions are the focus of the violations. Leung said “Disney has the capacity and resources to allow their workers to organize and through that to become a global corporate citizen.” He continued by adding “We hope by 2007, we can come back and present a global corporate citizen award to Disney.”

The Disney Corporation brings in profits of over $2 Billion a year and is a publicly traded company. Criticism of Disney’s global practices have been under scrutiny for several years now and was the focus of the National Labor Committee’s video Mickey Mouse goes to Haiti. The video, depicting harsh labor conditions in Latin America, sparked Protests outside Disney Franchise stores nationwide along with organized boycotts of their products. A concentrated effort came in December 1996 when the National Labor committee held an International Week of Action Against Disney.

The Berne Declaration, founded in 1968, awarded the 2006 Public Eye Environmental category to Chevron and the Taxes category to Citigroup. The winners were announced on January 25th, also the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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