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Child labor claims in Olympics report

Backpacks, caps and other products for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are being made in Chinese factories that use child labor, a report said.

The report, compiled by PlayFair 2008 – an alliance of global trade unions and labor groups – identified four factories that it says are abusing Chinese and international labor standards to produce Olympics-licensed products. The findings are likely to prove embarrassing to organizers of the 2008 Olympics and the International Olympic Committee.

The communist government wants to use the Beijing Games to project a positive image of China, spending an estimated 40 billion dollars on a complete makeover. „Licensing of the Olympic brand is a major source of income for the IOC and national Olympic committees,” said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, a PlayFair campaign member and worldwide union association. „It brings shame on the whole Olympics movement that such severe violations of international labor standards are taking place in Olympic-licensed factories.”

Officials with the Beijing Olympic organizing committee declined to comment, saying they had not seen the report. The International Olympic Committee said it does not have direct control over all official products that carry the Olympic label but that it has created policies on fair labor standards that it expects Olympic host cities and licensed manufacturers to follow. The Beijing Olympics are expected to be the most profitable in the games’ history, attracting 500,000 foreign visitors.

Corporate sponsors are using the event to raise their profiles in China’s rapidly growing consumer market. PlayFair said it looked into four factories producing Olympic-licensed products in southern China. Investigators, some of whom got jobs in the factories, found: forced overtime; 12-hour work days; failure to pay overtime; child workers as young as 12; wages below the legal minimum; long working hours and hazardous working conditions. (icwales.icnetwork.co.uk)