Disney's duds are tops in sweatshop labour, Oxfam

Two groups concerned with labour conditions in the developing world handed Disney a rather dubious award: "Sweatshop Retailer of the Year."

The Maquila Solidarity Network and Oxfam Canada presented their second annual sweatshop awards Monday.

The award was given to Disney based on research by the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee. It says Disney makes products at 12 factories in China where young female workers are paid $90 a month for working 16-hour days, seven days a week.

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The workers have complained of exposure to chemicals and crowded living conditions in company dormitories. Disney doesn't own the factory but has piece work done there.

The CBC program Marketplace carried out a similar report about Disney's practices six months ago. At the time, a spokesperson said the corporation was "concerned" about human rights violations and would be willing to inspect the factories in question.

This time, no one at the company was available to comment on whether they had done that.

According to Oxfam, many of the world's 23.6 million garment workers in 160 countries are denied their basic human rights. They have poor working conditions, substandard wages and most are women.

The awards are tabulated from an online vote of 3,000 consumers. Wal-Mart came in second while Nike rounded out the top three.

Clothing retailer Liz Claiborne was singled out for the "Transparency Award."

"While Liz Claiborne is far from sweat-free," says Bob Jeffcott of the Maquila Solidarity Network on the group's Web site, "accepting independent monitoring and disclosing critical reports are important steps in the right direction."