International group urges IOC to demand crackdown by Chinese government
Brussels (18 July 2007) - An international group called PlayFair 2008 is asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to insist that Chinese authorities crack down on gross labour abuses as their country prepares to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In a report entitled No Medal for the Olympics on Labour Rights, the group says Chinese factories supplying goods for the games are paying as little as half the legal minimum while employing children as young as 12 years old and forcing employees to work 12-hour shifts or longer, seven days a week, in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
"With freedom of association banned in China, the workers lack any effective means to defend their rights," the group says. To date, no serious action has been taken by the IOC.
PlayFair 2008 researchers conducted interviews and investigations in early 2007 in four factories making licensed Olympic bags, headgear, stationery and other products. The companies are Lekit Stationary Co., Mainland Headwear Holdings Ltd., Eagle Leather Products and Yue Wing Cheong Light Products.
PlayFair 2008 has been trying since the 2004 Olympics in Athens to persuade the IOC to put worker rights standards into Olympics supply chain contracts. So far nothing has been done.
"The licensing of the Olympics brand is a major source of income for the IOC and national Olympics committees," says Guy Ryder, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
"It brings shame on the whole Olympics movement that such severe violations of international labour standards are taking place in Olympics-licensed factories."
The ITUC is a campaign partner in PlayFair 2008 along with the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC).
"Children as young as 12 years old working 15 hours a day. Workers cheated of more than half their legal wages. All working till they drop making Beijing Olympics related products. This isn't sport! It begs the question if IOC actually means 'Ignoring Outrageous Conditions' rather than 'International Olympic Committee,'" adds ITGLWF General Secretary Neil Kearney. NUPGE