Thursday, August 18, 2011

Playfair Olympics

Guest Post by Bill Measure

27th July 2011 marked the 365 day countdown to the start of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Whether you are looking forward to the start of the Olympics, looking forward to the Games being over, see positive benefits coming from the Games or wish London had not bid at all, the event is coming here and our attention needs to focus on getting the best out of London 2012 for all concerned. So with impeccable timing it was on that very day that I attended a meeting where Sam Gurney, TUC Policy Officer, gave a talk about the Playfair at the Olympics campaign.

Playfair started in 2003 with the build up to the 2004 Games in Athens. Some baseball caps for the 2000 Sydney Games had been made by child labour and it was very likely that the 2004 Games were going to be selling merchandise made by workers earning well under a living wage in often terrible conditions. The campaign focuses on the global supply chains and big sporting events are a hook for this because of their high profile. For the Beijing Olympics a large amount of merchandise was made in China, which raised human rights issues with suicides because of harsh conditions at work.

As soon as it appeared that London might be bidding for the 2012 Olympics the TUC started looking to build a more ethical Games. The TUC are working with NGOs and unions and have four targets
  • The Games organisers in London
  • The International Olympic Committee; the IOC gives the appearance of being a small closed shop. For example in London there will be sealed lanes for IOC officials to be chauffeur driven around, not for them public transport.
  • Companies involved in supplying sporting equipment e.g. Nike*, Adidas, Pentland
  • National Olympic committees who are asked to ensure that team kits and uniforms are made in decent conditions
The TUC are seeking full disclosure of Olympic branded goods and a commitment to a code on workers’ rights. This started before the bid. The big focus in the coming year will be on factory locations, how Olympic goods are made and what the workers’ pay and conditions are. The TUC are working with teaching unions to produce material for schools to get pupils thinking about where goods come from and the working conditions of the people who make them.

People buying 2012 merchandise are urged to staple their receipt to a letter to the manufacturer asking where the product was sourced. Sign up to the website and receive email alerts and be kept up to date with the campaign.

(Footnote – the labour may be cheap but the fruits of it are not. A recent visit to the View Tube to enable relatives from abroad to look over the Olympic site showed merchandise on sale e.g. £12 for a baseball cap, £18 for a T-shirt, £6 for a pin badge.)

*Editor’s Note: Nike steals the lead in Detox challenge

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