Olympic firms warned over sweatshop abuse

By staff writers
July 29, 2011

One year before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the anti-poverty charity War on Want has warned that the Games could be tarnished by sponsors' poor human rights records.

They urged the sponsor Adidas to act to protect the rights of workers making its products.

Adidas is the 2012 Games’ official sportswear partner, but has refused to commit to ensuring that its suppliers pay a living wage or that workers have the right to join a union.

War on Want is part of the Playfair 2012 campaign, a coalition of trades unions and charities calling on the organisers of the London Olympics and companies to ensure that workers producing sportswear and goods with the Olympic logo are not exploited.

In a recent survey of 83 factories supplying sportswear brands, including Adidas, Nike and Speedo, the International Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation found that Sri Lankan workers, most of them women, tended to earn only 10,000 rupees (£55) a month, less than half a living wage of 23,500 rupees (£131) a month.

In one Sri Lankan factory workers had to work 90-100 hours’ overtime a month.

Meanwhile, two factories in Sri Lanka conducted pregnancy tests on potential workers and refused to hire expectant mothers.

Earlier this month, an investigation by the Associated Press alleged that Indonesian workers were paid only 30p a day to produce Nike trainers and were routinely hit and abused by their bosses.

“Many people are excited that the London Olympics are now only 12 months away," said Greg Muttit of War on Want, "But for workers turning out sportswear for top brands, today is just another marathon shift at the factory, with insufficient pay to make ends meet".

He insisted, "Companies like Adidas must not wrap themselves in the flag of the Olympics unless they can ensure human rights are respected in their supply chains".

Adidas sportswear is promoted by David Beckham, who helped London succeed with its bid to stage the Olympics next year. Nike sponsors the US Olympic team.

And Speedo sponsors Rebecca Adlington, who won two swimming Olympics gold medals for Britain at the 2008 Games in Beijing.


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