Sportswear Industry Criticized Ahead Of Olympics

Global trade union group criticized sportswear companies and the International Olympic Committee for not doing enough to ensure labor rights are respected.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A global trade union group criticized sportswear companies and the International Olympic Committee on Monday for not doing enough to make sure labor rights are respected in the run-up to the Beijing Games.
The International Trade Union Confederation said workers are still exploited in China, where it claims some have to glue sports shoes for less than US$2 (euro1.30) a day.
''Five years after we first approached the IOC on this issue, no concrete commitments have been made,'' ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder said.
ITUC joined the international textile union ITGLWF and the Clean Clothes Campaign non-governmental organization to produce the Clearing the Hurdles report, which seeks to prove workers' rights are still being trampled on in much of Asia.
''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,'' ITUC said in a statement.
The IOC called the report ''comprehensive'' and said it has ''had a productive dialogue with the labor unions.''
''The IOC encourages all parties within the Olympic Movement to work with suppliers who adhere to fair and ethical labor practices,'' it said in a reaction from Lausanne, Switzerland. It added it has contractual clauses for its branded products to respect labor rights.
It added that labor conditions were an integral part of the candidacy process for future Olympics.
The report painted a scathing picture of conditions imposed by major international sportswear companies, including Adidas.
The German manufacturer said the report was selective and omitted the many areas where labor conditions had already vastly improved.
''Many of the issues raised are already being addressed,'' Adidas AG said in a statement. ''We as a company feel responsible for protecting workers rights and improving working conditions.''
The report was based on interviews with 320 workers from factories in India, China, Indonesia and Thailand. Many interviewees remained anonymous. It followed up on a labor campaign ahead of the 2004 Athens Games.
Four years later, ''substantial violations of worker rights are still the norm,'' the report said. It criticized the lack of collective bargaining agreements, job insecurity and abuse of short-term labor contracting.
It also said that garment workers in Cambodia earned only some US$80 (euro50) a month, while ball stitchers in Pakistan only received US$0.57 (euro.036) to US$0.65 (euro.41) a ball.
The Beijing Games will be held Aug. 8-24.
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