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Walt Disney--Sweatshop Retailer of the Year

Walt Disney--Sweatshop Retailer of the Year

Subject: The "Sweaties": Disney Wins Photo Finish in Sweatshop
Retailer Race

From: Maquila Solidarity Network <info@maquilasolidarity.org> A
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 3:42:16 PM -0400

June 18, 2001
For Immediate Release:

Disney Wins Photo Finish in Sweatshop Retailer Race


Disney has nosed out Wal-Mart in this year's race for the "Sweatshop
Retailer of the Year" award. According to Bob Jeffcott of the Toronto-
based Maquila Soldarity Network, which co-sponsored the awards with
Oxfam Canada, close to 3,000 concerned consumers in Canada and other
countries voted on-line, selecting Disney from among four retailers
most associated with sweatshop abuses over the past year. Nike
finished third in the vote, and Reitmans came in dead last.

The winners of the Sweatshop Retailer Awards, "the Sweaties," were
announced today at a mock awards ceremony held outside the Metro
Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the Retail Council of Canada's
annual conference, where the RCC's "Excellence in Retailing Awards"
are being presented this evening.

Wal-Mart, last year's Sweatshop Retailer of the Year, received this
year's "Smokescreen Award" for the company hiding the most from its
customers. Ironically, Wal-Mart is also in the running for the Retail
Council's award for "Socially Responsible Retailer" of the year. On a
more positive note, the MSN and Oxfam announced that Liz Claiborne
had received the "Transparency Award" for the company that is
learning that honesty is the best policy.

According to Jeffcott, Disney's selection as "Sweatshop Retailer of
the Year" can be attributed to a report by the Hong Kong Christian
Industrial Committee documenting sweatshop abuses in 12 Disney supply
factories in China. The report charges that young women migrant
workers making Disney clothes, toys and accessories were forced to
work up to 16 hours a day, six or seven days a week for wages as low
as $90Cdn a month. The report also criticizes Disney's code
monitoring program, claiming that most workers do not understand the
purpose of the code, and that some workers were drilled on how to
answer Disney monitors' questions "correctly."

Wal-Mart was singled out for the "Smokescreen Award" for allegedly
misleading customers about its association with a Chinese factory
producing "Kathie Lee" handbags. Workers were reportedly locked in
the plant for all but 60 minutes a day, forced to work up to 90 hours
a week, punched and hit for talking back to managers, and charged
large portions of their salaries for food and lodging.

Liz Claiborne received the MSN's and Oxfam's "Transparency Award"
for agreeing to make public a highly critical report on factory
conditions by the Guatemalan independent monitoring group,
COVERCO. "While Liz Claiborne is far from sweat-free," says
Jeffcott, "accepting independent monitoring and disclosing critical
reports are important steps in the right direction."

Transparency is the theme of this year's "No Sweat" campaign, co-
sponsored by the MSN, Oxfam Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress,
Students Against Sweatshops-Canada, and the Union of Needletrades,
Industrial and Textile Employees. The No Sweat campaign is calling on
public institutions to adopt ethical purchasing policies and require
that their apparel suppliers publicly disclose where the products are
made. The campaign is also demanding changes in federal regulations
to require retailers to publicly disclose production locations for
all apparel products sold in Canada.
- 30 -

**************************************************************
Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) / Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG)
606 Shaw Street, Toronto Ontario M6G 3L6
CANADA
Tel: 416-532-8584 / Fax: 416-532-7688
Web: www.maquilasolidarity.org

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