A report by an advocacy group entitled “No medal for the Olympics on labour rights” claims four firms making official Olympic merchandise for the 2008 Beijing Olympics were exploiting workers. Playfair, an alliance of world trade unions, found abuses at factories including child labor, forced overtime, and low wages. Additionally, it is alleged workers are being instructed to lie about wages, poor health, and safety conditions to inspectors.
Three of the four firms have denied these accusations. Interviews with workers of the three firms support the firms’ denial of labor abuse. The fourth, however, Lekit Stationery has admitted children 12 and 13 years of age were employed by one of its sub-contractors, Leter Stationery. They say the children were employed during the school holidays last winter and did not work on official Olympic merchandise. Lekit also insists it was not aware of its sub-contractor’s employment of children.
Lekit had originally denied these allegations, but the company only found out when Dongguan officials released the findings of an initial investigation into the issue.
The International Olympic Committee said it supports ethical practices. Additionally, they say more stringent regulations must be made so the 2012 London Olympics will not be tarnished by similar accusations. The speed of the Dongguan investigation shows, however, China’s desire to avoid bad publicity in the time before the 2008 Olympics.
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