Olympic Mascot Toys Allegedly Made In Sweatshops

 

New allegations have been made that cuddly toy versions of the Olympic mascots are being produced in factories that abuse worker’s rights. The allegations have led to an internal investigation by LOCOG. The British toy company Golden Bear, who sell the mascot toys have been accused that  workers in their Chinese factory are alleged to work more than 11 hours a day, for 26p per hour. Golden Bear, along with the BTHA (British Toy and Hobby Association) have launched an inquiry and LOCOG claims to have contacted licensees to ‘reiterate the importance we place on the sustainable sourcing code they have each signed up to.’ A LOCOG spokesperson has said that they ‘place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when securing goods and services and take these allegations extremely seriously’.

The LOCOG Sustainability Source Code (http://www.london2012.com/publications/locog-sustainable-sourcing-code.php) outlines LOCOG’s approach to the sustainable sourcing of materials, from timber for furniture and fitting to the product specific industry standards in merchandising. The principal audiences of the Code are internal buyers and specifiers and prospective suppliers and licensees i.e. both the LOCOG merchandising team and the toy’s manufacturers, Golden Bear. The code specifies that:

“Put simply, our approach to sourcing sustainable products can be based
on the following five key questions:
1. Where does it come from?
2. Who made it?
3. What is it made of?
4. What is it wrapped in?
5. What will happen to it after the Games? ”

It’s aim is that interested parties “can better understand our views on sustainability and how they are being implemented.” Prospective suppliers and licensees are advised to review the requirements of the Code and ensure that relevant areas of their business and supply chain are in compliance with its provisions. On occasions when we are sourcing services which involve labour, LOCOG uses the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code (http://www.ethicaltrade.org/resources/key-eti-resources/eti-base-code) as the required standard that suppliers should be achieving. in the case of Golden Bear’s factory, LOCOG’s processes for the tendering of contracts, both the Sustainability Source Code and the ETI Base code, seem to have been neglected. The question therefore is, how has this happened?

The LOCOG Code states that “following our due diligence process and award of a contract, we will monitor a supplier or licensee’s practices to ensure they are being carried out as agreed in the tender process”, and they utilize a spend priority categorization system to determine the likelihood of assessment and monitoring during the tender process. This means that the higher the priority according to the spend categorization the more likely it is that the prospective suppliers and licensees will be evaluated for their ethical sustainability. According to LOCOG sustainable sourcing code, the product specific industry standards for merchandising (the category into which the toy mascots fall) are rated as “moderate” priority and are SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange – http://www.sedexglobal.com) mandated, though no guidelines or strategies exist for supporting sustainability. The upshot of this is that the potential for merchandise suppliers to be assessed during the tender process “will be determined by LOCOG on a case-by-case basis”, with “moderate” priority for sustainability support.

Perhaps in the case of Golden Bear the assessments were not deemed necessary. Perhaps the difference between “moderate” and “high” priority is purely a result of interest in the abuses of factory workers. Perhaps it is even the case that the LOCOG Sustainability Source Code is an elaborate exercise in demonstrating how important such ethical issues are in relation to the spending of money. It does seem more likely, though, that their prerogative is, as stipulated on page three of the Code, that “LOCOG will do business with suppliers and licensees who are best placed to deliver outstanding value for money”. In the case of the Golden Bear factory, this seems to be at odds with their commitment to sustainability as “one of several core elements which make up how we (LOCOG) define value for money.”

 

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Commuters warned of 30-minute wait for a train during Olympics

Tube and rail travellers will have to wait at least half an hour to board trains at “hotspot” stations during peak hours at the Olympic, transport chiefs admitted earlier this week.

Passengers will be held in lengthy queues or will have to walk to alternative stations, according to the first detailed forecasts of public transport and road demand during the Games.

The busiest station will be London Bridge, with Transport for London (TfL) forecasting delays of at least half an hour during the two-hour evening peak every day during the Games. Other “hotspots” include Bank, Canary Wharf, Canada Water and Bond Street.

                                                        Photo by: Qsimple

Volunteers will be situated at hotspot stations issuing travel advice and walking maps. The second stage of TfL’s public information campaign will start early next year and target commuters rather than business. It will profile a further 30 Tube stations and provide travel advice for weekend journeys.

Transport bosses admit that disruption will be much worse if they cannot achieve a 20 per cent reduction in passenger journeys during the Games by persuading commuters to change their travel patterns.

Major challenges are also expected on Monday August 13th, the day after the closing ceremony, with an exodus of teams and their entourages to airports on what will be the busiest day in Heathrow’s history.

In addition to this, motorists have officially been urged not to drive to or through “hotspots”, such as sports venues or cultural festivals and not to take the car during rush hours. People have also been recommended to work from home during the Olympics.

What they don’t seem to take into consideration is the fact that most people are not in a situation where they can work from home for a few weeks. They’re also failing to recognise that many people live miles and miles away from their workplace and walking in every morning would take hours. Then again, it would probably be quicker than getting on the tube…

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Intervju med Yleisradio/Rundradion

Vår egen Mark Saunders, ägare av Spectacle, har blivit intervjuat av Charlotta Hedman från Yleisradio/Rundradion angående OS i London sommarn 2012. Vi tycker det är jätteroligt att våran dokumentärfilm har blivit uppdagat i Skandinavien också, och hoppas att fler upptäcker den efter detta.

Ni kan lyssna på hela intervjun här:

smaltpunkt_os

En skriftlig versjon av intervjun, Inte ett OS för alla, hittar ni vid att clicka in på Yleisradios/Rundradions hemsida.

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Havelange leaves IOC just days before hearing

Joao Havelange has resigned from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just days before an ethics commission was due to deliver their findings on allegations he received bribes when FIFA president.

With his resignation the investigation is likely to be dropped on the  grounds that the committee no longer have jurisdiction over him.

Fifa also confirmed Havelange’s resignation adding: “Fifa has taken note of Joao Havelange’s resignation as IOC member and the fact that the IOC has closed the case accordingly.”

The 95-year-old  was the IOC’s longest-serving member having joined in 1963. He served as Fifa president between 1974 and 1978, before he was replaced by Sepp Blatter.

Two other IOC members, International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack and Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football, will have their cases considered by the committee on Thursday.

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Olympic ceremonies will cost another £40m

The budget for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies has been doubled to over £80 million, it was announced today.

Ministers blamed the increased cost of security on the recruitment of 23 700 security guards to work at more than 100 competition and training venues. This brings the taxpayer’s contribution to venue security to £533 million. With the policing bill set at £475 million, the overall cost of Olympic security is now £1 billion.

Delivering the Government’s quarterly Olympic budget update today, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: “This money will not be spent on fireworks, it will not be money going up in smoke, it will be an important investment in the economic future of the country.”


He continued by saying that a meeting of the Prime Minister, the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and himself had decided that they “needed to maximise and promote London to the four billion television viewers after being presented with a wide range of ceremonial components across the ceremonies.”

Robertson acknowledged the current economic conditions but said that the potential benefits that could flow through enhanced tourism numbers justified the increase.

The extra cash will come from the Olympic contingency fund and the London 2012 project remains on course to come in at around the budgeted £9.3 billion.

Putting on a great show is important but what’s even more important is creating a lasting legacy – other than debt. Surely they’d be able to put on a few good shows for the original £40 million budgeted and then they could have spent the additional £40 million on something that would benefit the people of Britain in the future?

This is where we’d normally add a sarcastic comments about broken calculators, but this time we’re just going to let the numbers speak for themselves…

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Prestige Tickets sold hospitality packages for a venue which didn’t exist – and they didn’t have planning permission to build it either

Prestige Tickets Ltd has been selling hospitality packages to the equestrian events in Greenwich Park and their specially designed restaurant without having planning permission to build the structure.

Owned by former England rugby player turned sports agent, Mike Burton, and a French company, Soxedo, Prestige Tickets Ltd is the official supplier of  “world-class hospitality packages” for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Their plan is to build a restaurant seating 500 people in Greenwich Park, consisting of two connected by a glass bridge under which competitors will ride.

On March 29th 2010 the Council granted full planning permission for temporary use of the site for the hosting of the equestrian and modern pentathlon events, including the test events in 2011.

In an email Janice Goldsmith, Assistant Policy Officer at Greenwich Council, said: “The temporary structures include a 23,000 seat arena, training areas, stabling, a cross county course, operational site set up and removal compounds, vehicular and pedestrian access areas, operational parking and ancillary structures. Concessions areas and structures were also included.”

However, this response did not give any information regarding the building for the restaurant, so Spectacle politely responded and asked whether a planning application had been submitted for “a proposed two-towered structure seating up to 500 diners” in the area.

Our first email questioning the planning permission was sent on September 27th 2011. On November 30th, many excuses and nearly two months later, we received an email from Ms Goldsmith saying that “the Council has received a planning application for the structure. The application number is 11/2604/SD.”

A quick search on the Council’s website reveals that this application was made on November 2nd, a long time after we first requested the information and a long time after the tickets went on sale.

If the two towers and glass bridge was included in the first planning permission, why would they then have applied for it again?

The planning application made on November 2nd this year can be found on London Borough of Greenwich Planning Pages.

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Coca-Cola break Olympic Pledge to Public Transport

Soft-drinks company Coca-Cola have been accused of ‘breaking the Olympic spirit’, following another recent controversy over transport in London during the 2012 Games.

Guests of Coca-Cola, one of the official sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics, will be transported to and from the games in Stratford by VIP buses, it has been revealed. As a result, they are now being accused of breaking the Games’ pledge to encourage those attending the event to rely on public transport.

Whilst it would take just 20 minutes on public transport for guests to commute from their 5-star rooms at the Langham Hotel to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, guests of Coca-Cola will instead be travelling on VIP buses, driving up to Euston Road and joining the Olympic Route Network.

The Olympic Lanes were initially created for the quick transportation of competitors and employees. Yet sponsors of the games, including Coca-Cola, will also be allowed to take advantage of these specially created routes, even though the majority of their guests will be attending as spectators.

In addition to this, parking for residents around the Langham Hotel will be restricted during the games, in order to make way for the VIP buses.

Whilst London commuters are being urged to avoid making any unnecessary trips into the capital during the Games and employers are being urged to increase the number of Londoners working from home , guests of Coca-Cola and other Olympic sponsors will be able to enjoy VIP transportation.

“Coca-Cola will benefit from special measures during [the] Games … the rest of us are being asked to make sacrifices. It is a blatant affront to the Olympic spirit.”

As Simon Jenkins says, ‘Olympics VIPs and their cronies […] can cruise through London unimpeded by traffic lights, white vans, taxis, cyclists, zebra crossings or ordinary Londoners, who will be shoved into the gutter like medieval peasants’

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Chief organiser of Commonwealth Games promotes his services

Suresh Kalmadi, chief organiser of Commonwealth Games, has offered up his services to the 2012 Olympics. He claims the games in Delhi have been such an outstanding success that 2012 would greatly benefit from his input. Despite last-minute worries about the unstable construction work of the Athlete’s village, “unfit for human habitation”; Kalmadi argues the event has shown the world that a Third World country is a perfectly capable host.

The Commonwealth Games were intended to showcase India’s economic rise to the world, but it soon became bogged-down in incompetence and infighting. Its defenders have proclaimed that the opening ceremony was enough to silence critics, although some have stated the games have suffered from poor ticket sales and general lack of interest from the public. Kalmadi denies all criticism and insists it has been an unqualified achievement.

For more information on this story click here

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