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Beijing Olympics merchandise made using child labour

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Newly published research shows that licensed goods bearing the logo of the 2008 Beijing Games have been made in factories where child labour and gross exploitation are rife.

As members of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) gather in London for a progress report on the 2012 Games, the report - 'No Medal for the Olympics' finds evidence of children as young as 12 years old producing Olympic merchandise. Researchers also found adults earning 14p per hour (half the legal minimum wage in China) and employees who were made to work up to 15 hours per day, seven days a week.

The research undertaken inside China by the Playfair Alliance - represented in the UK by the TUC and Labour Behind the Label (LBL) - into working conditions in four factories making 2008 Olympic bags, headgear, stationery and other products also reveals that factory owners are falsifying employment records, and forcing workers to lie about their wages and conditions.

With 1872 days to go until the London Olympics, campaigners at a meeting in Parliament called on the organisers of the 2012 Games to act now to make sure that their own licensed goods are not made with similar violations of workers' rights. The Playfair Alliance has expressed concern that workers' rights could be jeopardised by the pressure to keep the overall cost of the London Games down.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Children and adult workers are being grossly exploited so that unscrupulous employers can make more profit. Their actions tarnish the Olympic ideal, and we don't want more of the same when the Olympics come to London. The IOC must add respect for workers' rights to the Olympic charter.'

The Playfair Alliance is calling on the IOC to:

Demand that countries hosting the Olympics make sure that goods produced under licence meet core labour standards, and where this is not the case, the IOC must act to put the situation right.

Ensure that respect for workers' rights is a key part of the Olympic Charter and of the IOC Code of Ethics.

Commit resources to undertake investigations of working conditions and acts to end abusive and exploitative labour practices in IOC supply chains.

From: Olympics merchandise made using child labour, Trades Union Congress, 7 June 2007

A pdf of the full report can be downloaded from TUC

See also: Playfair 2008


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