Mon, Jan 23, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Olympic mascots caught up in sweatshop claims

AFP, LONDON

The organizers of this year’s London Olympics said yesterday they were investigating claims that cuddly toy versions of the Games’ mascots are being made by poorly paid workers in a Chinese factory.

Golden Bear, based in Telford, England, has a license to produce Olympic products based on Wenlock and Mandeville, the official mascots of the Olympics and Paralympics.

An inquiry was launched after media reports about the pay and conditions of the workers making the toys at a factory in China.

Golden Bear and the London organizers said they were taking “seriously” the allegations that workers making the mascots were laboring for more than 11 hours a day for as little as US$0.40 an hour.

A London 2012 spokesman said the organizers place a high priority on “environmental, social and ethical issues” when securing goods and services and are taking the allegations “extremely seriously.”

“We have asked our independent monitor to carry out a comprehensive investigation and review of these allegations,” he said. “The outcome of this investigation will be made public as soon as it is concluded.”

“We have contacted all of our licensees to reiterate to them the importance we place on the sustainable sourcing code they have each signed up to,” he said.

Golden Bear said it was also conducting an immediate investigation, but confirmed that the factory in question had passed inspections by the International Council of Toy Industries.

“Golden Bear is extremely concerned about recent reports that a factory involved in a small amount of the production of the company’s Olympic product could be in breach of workers’ rights,” the company said in a statement.

“We are a family-run business that takes these issues very seriously indeed and has in place certificates of compliance at all factories used to produce our products,” it said. “We are therefore in the process of conducting an immediate investigation and will be able to comment on these findings as soon as they are known to us.”

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