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Poor working conditions besmirch sportswear industry
Apr '08
As the clock ticks down to the Beijing Olympics, workers producing for the international sportswear companies that spend millions on Olympic and athletic sponsorship deals are still working excessive hours and paid poverty wages, according to a damning new report, “Clearing the Hurdles, Steps to improving working conditions in the global sportswear industry”, from Play Fair 2008 (PF08).

• “No real progress” since Athens games, say PF08 campaigners
• China: workers glueing sports shoes for less than $2 per day, stitching footballs for $0.50 each

Based on interviews with over 300 sportswear workers in China, India, Thailand and Indonesia, Clearing the Hurdles shows that violations of worker rights is still the sportswear industry norm – including in workplaces producing for adidas, sponsor of the Beijing and London Games and numerous national Olympic teams.

“Workers making the goods sold by brand leaders such as adidas, Asics, New Balance, Nike, and Puma are still earning poverty wages despite the fact that company profits are soaring into the hundreds of millions, sometimes even billions of dollars,” said Neil Kearney, general secretary of the ITGLWF (International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation), one of the organizations coordinating the Play Fair 2008 campaign in the lead up to the Beijing Games.

“This report presents clear targets for industry to work towards to make progress – we're urging industry leaders to step up to the challenge.”

Play Fair's report lifts the lid on Yue Yuen, the little known Hong Kong manufacturer that produces one-sixth of the world's sports shoes and counts brands such as adidas, Nike and New Balance among its most important clients.

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