Saturday 16 December 2017

Workers on €12 per week for making Olympic sportswear

Dean Nelson in Phnom Penh

AdidaS, the sportswear company, is facing an investigation over claims that Cambodian workers are being paid £10 (€12) a week in basic wages to make official merchandise for the London Olympics.

It is one of the 2012 Games' largest sponsors -- believed to have invested £100m (€120m) -- and manufactured the official Team GB apparel designed by Stella McCartney.

But at the company's Shen Zhou factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, it was discovered that poor machinists were working up to 10 hours a day, six days a week, to produce the official Olympics merchandise that thousands of fans will buy in stores across Britain.

Living in squalid conditions, workers said they earned a basic salary of around €48 a month for eight hours a day, six days a week, plus a €4 allowance for health care. They said they could take their wages up to €100 by increasing their hours to 10 per day.

Adidas insisted yesterday that workers at the factory made an average of €106 a month, and would get, along with other garment industry workers in the country, a pay rise later this year.

Horrendous

However, Anna McMullen of the campaign group Labour Behind the Label, said that was still much lower than what they regarded as a living wage for a Cambodian worker with a family. "The minimum wage in Cambodia is horrendously low -- $66 (€54) a month," she said.

"But the living wage for a worker with two children is $260 (€210)."

Campaigners said the treatment of the workers amounted to a breach of an agreement with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) that merchandisers must pay workers a sustainable living wage. A LOCOG spokesman said yesterday it was concerned by the allegations and would carry out an investigation.

The Shen Zhou factory manufactures the adidas "fanwear" for the 2012 Olympics.

Soun So-phat, a 30-year-old mother of two, said she sent half of her money home to her parents, who look after her young daughters in their provincial village. She had left to look for work in the capital because she could not earn enough money from planting rice to feed her children.

Now she can feed them, but the money she has left over is not enough for her to eat properly. "It is hard work. I send home $60 per month and I live on $40. I eat three times a day but it's not good food," she said.

"It is difficult but we have to earn money," she said.

A spokesman for Adidas confirmed that the Phnom Penh factory produced Olympic "fanwear" but denied that the workers' pay and conditions were in breach of the organising committee's standards. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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