Guangdong firm used child labour, not for Games
Updated: 2007-06-15 08:37
GUANGZHOU - The government of Dongguan City in south China's Guangdong Province says children under the age of sixteen did work for a stationery company that makes Olympic-licensed products but they were employed to package other products.
The government's investigation shows that Lekit Stationery Co. hired eight students under the age of 16 from January 19 to February 10 while they were on vacation.
The investigating group was formed after a report was released last Sunday by international trade union alliance PlayFair. The Playfair Alliance said four Olympics merchandise licensees are hiring child labors and overworking them after they researched the working conditions at the four factories.
"If we find any problems, we will severely punish those violators," said Chen Feng, deputy director of the marketing department at the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) at a news conference on Wednesday. Chen told the press he would be meeting representatives of the companies later that day, but no details about the meeting have been released now.
The investigation says students earned 32 yuan (4 U.S. dollars) for a 12-hour day and worked six days a week, according to the investigation.
Six of the students were middle-school students and two were primary school students. While investigators did not reveal the children's ages, primary students in China are usually under the age of 13.
The city government says the under-aged children should not have been working at all and that Lekit underpaid them. The government says it has order the company to 'rectify' the situation but did not say if the children would receive back pay or if the company would be fined.
Investigators found the students were hired to pack notebooks, not Olympic-licensed products. The students told investigators they were not involved in producing Olympic souvenirs.
The Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG) has summoned Lekit and three other manufacturers to answer charges they breached labor laws in the manufacture of Olympic souvenirs.
"The legal affairs department has started to look into the accusations and the results will be announced as soon as the investigation concludes." Lu Chuan, a spokesman for BOCOG told Xinhua in a telephone interview.
Dongguan's labor watchdog said even if Lekit didn't use the students to make Olympic souvenirs, the company still violated Chinese laws and regulations for underpaying the students.
During their eight-hour day shift the students were paid 20 yuan. They were also paid three yuan an hour to work from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, with an hourly wage of three yuan.
The investigation also found Lekit had not signed labor contracts with 352 of its 772 workers and had underpaid them.
The labor watchdog ordered the company to sign the contracts with its workers and adjust the hours of work and pay before June 18.
Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice-president of (BOCOG) responded to media queries the Games organizers had stressed that the use of child labor is strictly forbidden in the production of Olympic-licensed products right after the Playfair report was released.
"There are explicit and strict requirements for the production and sales of licensed products, as stipulated in the contracts between BOCOG and the companies," Jiang said.
BOCOG has been very strict with Olympic-related factories in terms of their record on such areas as corporate responsibility, environmental protection and quality control, said Chen.