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.”

 

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Olympics – A PR opportunity for the shamefaced

The London Olympics has already suffered severe setbacks from activists who are threatening to disrupt the smooth functionaing of the mega event. Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Olympics Organising Committee has repeatedly turned down suggestions that he should get rid of some of the corporate sponsors. London which will be the first city to host the Olympic thrice is facing issues over sponsorship deals, transportation within the city, land grabbing and ceremonies expenditure.

The Olympics is an event of freedom, spirit, youth and energy; so why all these protests against an event of such big stature. The issue started when the organisers headed by Seb Coe agreed to massive sponsorship deals with corporates who have been responsible for heinous crimes in its history. BP, the most popular corporate culprit in the United States after its massive oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico has threatened more then 400 species and cost thousands of jobs. BP constantly delayed the cleaning of the oil spill and had to pay massive fines and compensations. American financial service giants VISA are engulfed in a controversy of their own. Any Olympic electronic financial transaction has to take place through a VISA debit or credit card. Many have raised their concern over the monopoly created by the organisers and have called for the boycott of the services offered by Visa.

The controversies that probably have managed to create a big dent on the mega event are the sponsorship deals with Dow Chemicals and ATOS. I have mentioned in my previous blog about the inhuman behavior of Union Carbide officials which is now owned by Dow Chemicals towards the people of Bhopal after a gas leak from a tank resulting in 3,000 lives in just one night. ATOS which is the private biggest health care service after the publicly owned NHS is under the limelight for its atrocious treatment of the disabled in the United Kingdom. Not many doubts were raised when athletes and activists have called for the Olympics to distance itself from ATOS or else they will try their best to boycott the Paralympic games. A similar threat has been given by some leading politicians and athletes from India to boycott the main event. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was the deal with GE(General Electric). GE is one of the leading producers of nuclear energy in the world and not just in America, as it has helped set up nuclear capabilities in many other countries.

It is a farce that corporates who have performed with dubious moral ethics have been allowed to sponsor an event that symbolises unity. Spread the word against corporate greed.

Click London Olympics for more blogs

See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Olympic road signs unveiled – and they’re not green

Road signs giving priority to 50, 000 Olympic vehicles were revealed earlier this week.

The signs, published by Transport for London, show how regular motorists will have to give way for official vehicles during the 2012 Games. Members of the Olympic family will have exclusive use of the right-hand lane of a dual carriageway, in a few cases shared by local buses.

Olympic lanes will also be used by athletes, media, officials and corporate sponsors, while cyclists and taxis are banned. The use of the roads by about
25, 000 sponsors has proved particularly controversial, as they will not be travelling out of operational necessity.

Priority road corridors will operate from 7am to 7pm on a third of the 106-mile Olympic network.

The signs will be installed next year but won’t become active until a few days before the operating ceremony on July 27th. Affected roads will also be painted with the Olympic rings.

Back in 2007 the organisers claimed that “walking, cycling and public transport would be promoted as the best ways to get to the events”. Despite this, they’ve now gone ahead and banned cycling on a third of the Olympic network.

Also, it has previously been revealed that guests of soft drinks company Coca-Cola will be travelling to the venues in Stratford using VIP buses, rather than public transport as called for by the Mayor.

One can certainly start asking questions about whether the organisers will be able to live up to their promises about making the London 2012 Olympic the “greenest ever.”

To quote Simon Jenkins of the London Evening Standard: “The only green thing (…) is the traffic light phase fixed for the IOC limousines and luxury buses. “

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

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’

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca