There’s only a year until the world descends upon Beijing for the next Olympics. In between the games will be the souvenirs that visitors will grab up. Will they ask themselves who made it? There’s a chance the answer would be a child in a sweat shop.
Packed into factories, employees are churning the mechandise out for the next Summer games. While their employers will be getting rich, the staff isn’t even making minimum wages. That’s the answer from a report made by PlayFair 2008.
An alliance of global trade unions and labour groups have been watching over the factories that make Olympics-licensed products. And they are not pleased.
“Licensing of the Olympic brand is a major source of income for the IOC and national Olympic committees,” said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, a PlayFair campaign member and worldwide union association. “It brings shame on the whole Olympics movement that such severe violations of international labour standards are taking place in Olympic-licensed factories.”
The Beijing Olympic organizing committee hasn’t issued a statement saying they haven’t yet read the report.
The alliance went undercover to see what was happening in four of the major factories that produce the trinkets that will be available. What they found is shocking to many in the developed world.
Employees are being forced to work overtime. Long 12-hour work days are common. Employers are failing to pay overtime. Staff are being paid wages below the legal minimum. Saddest of all are the child workers as young as 12.
So when you reach down to get that Olympics T-shirt, remember the Games by taking a moment to wonder who exactly made it.