Sportswear workers face gruelling conditions, long hours: report

BRUSSELS, April 21, 2008 (AFP) – Sportswear workers’ rights are being trampled asunder with unpaid overtime and gruelling conditions rife as the industry gears up for the Olympic Games in Beijing, according to a report. Researchers for the Play Fair 2008 campaign found that the conditions for sportswear equipment makers had hardly improved since the 2004 Athens Olympics and that “substantial violations of worker rights are still the norm.”

In addition to “extreme pressure to meet production quotas,” workers were often unpaid for long hours of overtime and were exposed to toxic chemicals as well as being bullied and harassed, the report said.

Many sportswear workers’ wages were not enough to get by on and employers found ways to get around increases in minimum wages and overtime limits, the researchers found.

“I am exhausted to death now,” one worker making New Balance shoes for a factory owned by sportswear subcontractor Yue Yuen in Dongguan, China told researchers.

“The two of us have to glue 120 pairs of shoes every hour. We are working without rest and are always afraid of not working fast enough to supply soles to the next production line.”

In another case, assembly workers making Adidas pro