Labour concerns at Winson Sturdy Products factory - August 2011
On 8 July 2011 Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) issued a press release, "Suicide Case Reaffirms ICTI's Bogus Certification System" stating that there had been a recent suicide at Sturdy Products, a factory of Winson Plastic Manufactory that manufactures toys for Disney, Mattel and Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, China. The statement asserts that labour abuses at Sturdy Products, "including poor work safety, excessive overtime...denial of social insurance, and repression of freedom of association", which SACOM had previously reported on, are continuing. It criticises the International Council of Toy Industry's (ICTI) CARE program, which has certified the factory as providing decent working conditions in compliance with the law.
SACOM's website also reproduces an article from South China Morning Post (12 July 2011), "Wal-Mart starts probe on suicide at Shenzhen plant", reporting that Wal-Mart is investigating the situation and noting that the managing director of Winson "could not be reached for comment".
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the buyers, the factory owner, and ICTI-CARE to respond to these allegations. The responses are indicated below:
- ICTI-CARE response [PDF], 2 Aug
- Disney - declined to respond
- Mattel response [PDF], 18 Sep
- Winson Plastic Manufactory - declined to respond
Wal-Mart was invited to send us further comment. If it does we will include it here.
On 27 August, The Guardian [UK] published an article, entitled "Disney factory faces probe into sweatshop suicide claims", which contained comments by Wal-Mart, Disney, Mattel, and ICTI-CARE:
"...Sturdy Products' parent company, Winson, failed to respond to requests to discuss the allegations…Walmart…said: 'As soon as we learned of the allegations of human rights abuses…we immediately launched an investigation...[W]e will implement a corrective action plan if our investigations confirm any of the findings…'...Disney said: 'We take these matters…very seriously and will continue to evaluate this situation…'...Mattel…[said] that the company was 'deeply saddened' by the suicide but that…it was an isolated event and local authorities had found nothing suspicious about the circumstances…'...Sacom's findings brought a rebuke from the International Council of Toy Industries' Care Foundation. 'We are the first to concede that much more work lies ahead of us, but we refuse to accept the sensationalist, media-oriented declarations of any group...' the foundation said."
Mattel's 18 September response to SACOM also refers to the allegations in the Guardian article.