The International Olympic Committees' (IOC) response to Monday's report exposing severe exploitation of Chinese workers making Olympics merchandise is seriously inadequate, according to the authors of the report, PlayFair 2008.
“The IOC has recognised that there is a problem, but they are not giving it the attention it deserves. A solution is needed not just for these four factories but for the whole of Olympics merchandise” said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ITUC, which is working the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers´ Federation and the Clean Clothes Campaign in the PlayFair 2008 group.
“After initially strongly denying any wrongdoing at all, one of the factories in the report has now admitted using child labour. This shows just how far the IOC needs to go to restore the reputation of Olympics merchandise. The IOC must take responsibility for the whole of Olympics licensing, and apply the same degree of enthusiasm to protecting workers' rights as they do to protecting the copyright of the Olympic rings”, he added.
In a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge, the PlayFair organisations “appreciate the stated commitment to social responsibility and ethical sourcing”, but have criticised the IOC for not giving any concrete information on what it is doing or what it might do in future to end labour rights violations in products bearing Olympics brands.
"The overwhelming response of the factories themselves has been one of denial" said Clean Clothes Campaign Spokesperson, Ineke Zeldenrust. It is well known that factory monitoring in the apparel and sports merchandise sector has been beset by problems of fraud and misrepresentation by employers, in China and in other producing countries.
"This problem is well documented and is publicly recognised by global sporting brands”, said Zeldenrust. “The PlayFair 2008 researchers who documented the abuses are experienced and competent, and interviewed the workers in a way which ensured they would not be exposed to possible intimidation or reprisals. Playfair is now concerned that BOCOG's investigation may not now be able to offer the same degree of protection and that the full picture may therefore not be revealed in these factories."