American Corporation's Child Labor


The next time you go to McDonald's with your children and they clamor for the newest toys that come with the company's Kid's Meals, here is something for you, as the adult, to consider.

There is a company in Viet Nam that manufactures many of the Disney toys that McDonald's licenses for distribution with those packages, Kid's Meals, which are solely aimed at seducing your child's desire for toys, first, and then their taste buds. That company is known as Keyhinge Toys. At the Keyhinge plant in Da Nang City, more than 90% of its employees are young women under the age of 20. These female workers earn less than $.06 (six cents) an hour while being forced to work nine to ten hours a day, seven days a week (that's just $4.20 per week, less than you make each hour).

On February 21st, more than 200 of these workers became seriously ill due to acetone poisoning. Acetone, a chemical solvent used in paints, causes dizziness and irritation to the nose, throat and lungs. Twenty-five workers collapsed and three were rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment after losing consciousness.

Assistance in installing a ventilation system was refused and, in late April, the levels of acetone in the factory's air was still 100 times higher than the even very lax standards of Vietnamese law.

The day after the poisoning, the company unilaterally dismissed over 200 workers. Again, even the ineffective Vietnamese Department of Labor found the company's actions illegal and forced them to reinstate all 200 employees.

Neither McDonald's Corporation nor the Disney Corporation will comment on any aspect of this incident.

Understand, McDonald's and Disney Corporations are not alone in this vile treatment of their foreign workers. Various electronics manufacturers have been implicated in the deaths and crippling of workers making circuit boards, oil companies share profits with brutal dictators in Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia while the workers are paid next to nothing or forced to work in unbelievably dangerous conditions, hundreds of products are imported into the United States that were manufactured by Chinese prison labor and, of course, Kathy Lee Gifford's line of cheap clothing for K-Mart Corp. was made by children earning pennies an hour in squalid working conditions in Haiti.

So, next time you have a choice as to where you and your family are going to eat or the clothing you will buy or the gas you put in your car and on and on, remember that the act of your children acquiring one more useless and short-lived toy or cheap clothes or electronics or whatever should not be predicated on teenage girls working 70 hour work-weeks for less than you will be spending on that one, fat filled, health destroying meal or gallon of gas or pair of socks. Your refusal to participate in this archetype of capitalistic greed and ignorance will, eventually, teach these corporate cretins that you have more respect for the well-being of others and that you will take your dollars (the God of the corporate mind) elsewhere.

Every corporation has only one aim in their existence and that is to separate you from your money. Only if they are instructed that you will part with that money solely for those who display at least a minimum of respect for all of the citizens of this planet will change occur. Only you can buy a conscience for America's businessmen. Only you can ever change anything since the American Corporate credo appears to be that whatever they can get away is legal. A company that cares about anything save profit is the absolute exception. We can reverse that with our dollars. If you were the helpless parent of a child working in such a horrible environment for an American corporation, would you expect less from a nation who claims to be so pure?

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Copyright 8/11/97