The role of sweatshops in the 2012 Olympics

Adidas, the US$16bn a year profit German owned sports clothing giant, has been tasked with the job of kitting out the UK Olympic team for the 2012 Olympics.  Designed by Stella McCartney (aka daughter of the famous Beatle band member Paul McCartney), the kits, according to The Independent, are being made up at a sweatshop in Tangerang city in Indonesia,  that pay its workers 5,000 rupiah (around €0.41) an hour for a 65 hour work week.  Workers interviewed in the factory complained of long working hours in poor conditions and sometimes experience abuse by employers. With an expected income of £100 million from sales of Olympic merchandise, this Adidas target is determining the unrealistic targets forced on factory staff to produce more:

It’s hard to get permission even to go to the bathroom,” said Yuliani, a 23-year-old seamstress told the Independent. “If you’re forced to go, the pile of work becomes so high that you get shouted at by the production line leader. They call you a dog, brainless, uneducated. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our lunch break to reach the target.”

LOCOG – The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games demands that all suppliers to Olympic licences comply with the ETI – Ethical Trading Initiative – base code. It claims in its “Playfair Agreement” that:

We firmly believe in working with our suppliers and licensees to raise standards and improve conditions for all. All our commercial partners, suppliers and licensees must comply with our sustainable sourcing code and our complaint and dispute resolution process is designed to assist us fulfill our commitments.

However, the Independent reveals that some unions are not given bargaining rights by Adidas’s Indonesian suppliers.

With the demands for ever more profits, sweatshop labour to manufacture clothing is not uncommon. According to Behind The Label there are estimated to be some 2 million people working in clothes sweatshops to produce clothes just for the U.S. market!


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