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Commonwealth Games Souvenirs Possibly Breach Labour Standards

March 3 2006 - Unions have expressed concern about souvenirs produced for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. They claim that souvenirs may have been manufactured in breach of the international labour standards previously agreed upon by the Games authority and unions.

Yesterday, Steven Lew, the chief executive of Playcorp, the Games' key apparel licensee, said in the Federal Court that he had not made any effort to ensure that Chinese workers making T-shirts, polo shorts and other clothing for the Commonwealth Games had access to free trade unions.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today:

"It is not good enough for the Games organisers to agree to adopt internationally accepted labour standards and then fail to ensure the rights of workers making souvenirs and clothing for the Games are protected.

"What is the point of entering into an agreement with Victorian unions unless you are going to adhere to it?

"Unions entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth Games organisers that would protect local jobs as well as ensure that the rights of overseas workers involved in producing Games clothing and souvenirs would be protected.

"Now we find that a key licensee of Games clothing made no effort to check whether workers at the Chinese clothing factory in Ningbo had a right to collectively bargain and access to a trade union," said Ms Burrow.

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union Secretary Michele O'Neil commented:

"As part of the agreement with Games officials, Victorian unions were able to achieve a commitment that 75% of the uniforms for the Games workforce would be made in Australia -- ensuring the products were made ethically by Australian workers.

"It is very disappointing that the Games organisers have clearly paid only lip service to the licensees meeting their obligations and have made no effort to monitor the working conditions of the overseas manufacturers."


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