Brussels, 20 March 2008: With the start of the official Olympic Torch Relay for the Beijing Olympics only a few days away, Play Fair 2008 , an international campaign seeking respect for workers’ rights in the production of Olympics-licensed products, today launched “Catch the Flame”, an electronic relay race to bring public attention to the need for the Olympics movement to stamp out abuses of labour standards in workplaces making Olympics goods.
“By joining this alternative torch relay, people around the world can send a clear message that for the Olympics to really be fair, working conditions for those who produce Olympic goods have to be fair as well,” said Esther de Haan, coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign, one of the organizations coordinating the Play Fair campaign.
Play Fair 2008 has been in contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on several occasions since 2003, most recently since Play Fair investigators uncovered a series of gross violations of workers’ rights in four Chinese factories making products under license to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. (Read or download the report)
“While discussions with the IOC in December were constructive and we remain hopeful that the world’s peak sporting body is prepared to take concrete action to put an end to maltreatment of workers who make the products which bring important revenue to the Olympics, there has been little if any actual progress, and this new initiative gives people the chance to join in the call for action,” said International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Guy Ryder.
With a wave of Bluetooth, sms and e-mail messages, “Catch the Flame” forwards Play Fair’s version of the Olympic flame to Beijing. The “Catch the Flame” relay starts in the Netherlands, where the flame for the modern Olympic Games was first lit in 1928.
Visitors to the “Catch the Flame” website are able to show their support for the Play Fair campaign’s objectives for fair labour standards in Olympics production. With the 2008 Olympics being held in China, international attention has focused on a range of human rights issues in China and related concerns such as press freedom. While Play Fair’s work has documented serious violations in Olympics production inside China, the problem is not limited to China, and previous Play Fair studies have documented workers’ rights violations in sports merchandise production in a range of other countries.
“It is now time for the IOC to recognise that as the owner of a global brand, it has a duty to ensure that a uniform and robust approach is taken by host cities to ensure that those goods that they procure bearing the Olympics logo have been made in workplaces that meet the highest employment standards,” said International Textile, Leather and Garment Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) General Secretary Neil Kearney.
Contacts for Play Fair 2008 coordinating organisations:
Mathieu Debroux, Press Officer
Tel. +32 2 224 02 04 or +32 476 62 10 18
Doug Miller, Mulitnationals Department
Tel : 0044 191 273 22 44 (office) or 077 88 41 32 26 (mobile)
Esther de Haan, Coordinator Global Campaigns
Tel. +31 20 412 27 85 (office) or +31 642 24 31 53 (mobile)
The ITUC represents 168 million workers in 155 countries and territories and has 311 national affiliates.
For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018