London Olympics: Souvenir Factories In China Accused Of Sweatshop Conditions

Two London Olympics merchandise factories in China have been accused of rampant worker abuse by a Hong Kong-based nonprofit workers rights organization.

In a report, Scholars and Students Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) found unsafe working conditions, below minimum wage pay, excessive overtime, lack of insurance or benefits, and illegal child labor at the Xinda and Shiwei factories.

Reuters summarizes some of the problems at the two manufacturing facilities:

In both factories, the report said, workers had 11-to-12-hour shifts six days a week with overtime work up to 120 hours a month. At Xinda, workers who dozed off during work lost two-four hours’ wages. At Shiwei, being five minutes late for work led to a half-day salary deduction.

The SACOM report also noted that “workers are exposed to hazardous working environments without adequate protective equipment.”

The CEO of Xinda’s parent company told Reuters that “the company complied with industry labor standards including those set by the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI), and dismissed accusations that it failed to supply adequate safety equipment.”

SACOM also claims that the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is not winning any gold medals in its efforts to monitor the manufacturing facilities to make sure they live up to “internationally acceptable social standards.”

SACOM’s report indicates that “Sometimes, workers have to work from the morning till midnight, their own marathons. Yet, no one will cheer for the sweat and blood of these workers because consumers simply don’t know the realities of life at the factories supplying the London Olympics. “

The Olympics is a hug cash-generating machine for collectibles. According to SACOM, sales of London Olympics merchandise could total about $1.5 billion in U.S. dollars although that estimate seems excessive.

Poor working conditions in China’s factories (including Apple’s Foxconn facility) have attracted international attention in recent years.

In a separate, but related, story, it recently emerged that Team USA’s uniforms at the opening and closing ceremonies during the 2012 London Olympics are made in China.