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China: Riot at Merton factory producing toys for McDonald's over working conditions & housing, says China Labor Watch

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31 July 2006

McDonald's, Mattel Dispute Allegations About Chinese Plant

Author: Andrew Batson, Wall Street Journal

McDonald's Corp. and Mattel Inc. said they have been investigating an outbreak of violence last week at a Chinese factory that supplies them with toys but haven't found evidence that the incident was a result of poor treatment of workers. The investigation into the factory comes after a report by China Labor Watch...said more than 1,000 of the plant's workers had rioted to protest poor wages and working conditions. The factory, owned by Merton Co.,...makes toys and promotional items that are sold by McDonald's and Mattel as well as other foreign companies, including Walt Disney Co... Gary Rosen, a spokesman for McDonald's in China, denied the incident was caused by Merton's labor practices and said McDonald's believes the incident is an isolated one. The investigation determined that a disgruntled worker who had been recently laid off returned to the plant and, together with a group of his friends, committed several acts of vandalism, Mr. Rosen said. McDonald's will continue to monitor conditions at its factories, he said... Mattel spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said Mattel and other companies had sent auditors to the Dongguan factory to look into the incident. She said those investigators have "not been able to substantiate the claims" made by China Labor Watch. A spokeswoman for Disney said the company is also investigating, but didn't elaborate. All three companies require their suppliers to follow certain labor standards and submit to regular inspections of factory conditions. "This is a reputable factory," said Mr. Rosen, of McDonald's. "We're there because they adhere to a code of conduct."

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27 July 2006

Chinese Workers Manufacturing for McDonald's and Disney Outraged by Mistreatment

Author: China Labor Watch

On July 22, 2006 , workers from the Merton Co. Ltd. (a/k/a Hengli Factory) in the Sangyuan Industrial District, Dongguan City , Guangdong Province, protested against the meager wage and poor living conditions in the factory. The protest began in workers' dorms and soon evolved into a self-organized labor riot. At night, the factory police sent riot vehicles and squad to control the situation (the factory has approximately 10,000 workers). On July 23...Over one thousand workers joined the conflict. Many injured...Workers will be subject to salary deduction if they refuse to work overtime. At Merton, workers do not enjoy paid national holidays, vacation or sick leave...According to the interviewed workers, 50% of Merton's products are manufactured for McDonald's. Other major purchasers include Disney and famous brands.

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27 July 2006

Chinese Workers Protest at Factory Making Toys for McDonald’s

Author: Jim Yardley, New York Times

A violent protest erupted last weekend at a factory in southern China that makes toys for McDonald’s and other international companies, a rights group said Thursday... The factory is owned by the Merton Company... Merton’s Web site lists Disney and McDonald’s among its customers. Workers told China Labor Watch that roughly half of the toys made at the factory were supplied to McDonald’s... Lisa Howard, director of corporate communications for McDonald’s, said it had purchased toys from the factory through a supplier, Creata Promotion. She said Creata was investigating the matter. “We need to get more of the facts,” she said. “We want a full investigation, and Creata has committed to that.” Michael Lillioja, executive director of Creata, confirmed by e-mail that an investigation was under way but raised doubts about China Labor Watch’s characterization of the incident. He said the factory had won awards for workplace safety and was regularly monitored by outside agencies... Creata...quoted factory officials as blaming a “disgruntled employee who was terminated.”

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27 July 2006

Labor rights group reports riot at China factory producing toys for McDonald's

Author: AFX News/XFN-Asia

More than 1,000 workers rioted over poor working conditions at a factory in southern China which produces toys for McDonald's and other firms, a US labor rights group said. The incident began on Saturday last week when workers at the Hengli Factory in Guangdong province protested over meager wages, lack of public holidays and poor living conditions, the New York-based China Labor Watch said... An official at the Hong Kong-based Merton Co Ltd, which owns the factory, told Agence France-Presse there had been an incident but refused to comment on the specific allegations. [also refers to other Merton clients: Disney, Mattel, Warner (part of Time Warner), DC Comics (part of Time Warner)]

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