Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Not everyone enjoying the Olympics, watchdog says

AFP, HONG KONG

A labor watchdog yesterday slammed the London Olympics organizers over alleged human rights abuses at Chinese “sweatshops” producing Games merchandise.

The group said laborers at two Chinese factories producing merchandise including Olympics mascots Wenlock and Mandeville worked up to 120 hours of overtime a month, or nearly three times the legal limit.

The workers were exposed to hazardous chemicals without sufficient protective gear, leading to illnesses, and some had to buy their own face masks to guard against paint mist.

“We are disappointed as these practices are unacceptable,” Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) spokeswoman Debby Chan (陳詩韻) said.

SACOM said it based its findings on interviews with 90 workers at two factories in southern Guangdong Province in May and last month.

The factories were run by Hong Kong companies Key Pine Ltd and Zindart Manufacturing Ltd (鑫達製造).

Some of the workers reported inhaling paint, being docked half a day’s wages if they were five minutes late, and being required to start shifts at 8am after finishing at midnight the previous day.

SACOM said the conditions breached the London Organising Committee’s (LOCOG) -ethical and sustainable procurement codes.

“The rampant rights violations reveal that the LOCOG codes are really no more than lip service, with no commitment to the enforcement of labor rights standards,” the group said in a report.

SACOM, which has previously highlighted conditions of workers producing Apple products in China, urged LOCOG to investigate the Chinese factories.

It also demanded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prevent such labor abuses in the future.

Zindart said it was investigating the claims, while a representative at Key Pine said the company was not aware of the report. Both declined further comment.

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