Olympics firms warned on sweatshops abuse

27 July 2011 - 12:00am
Press release

NEWS HOOK: Wednesday, 27 July 2011 -
one year until the 2012 London Olympics

Marking one year before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the anti-poverty charity War on Want today warned that sponsor Adidas will tarnish the Games unless it acts to protect the rights of workers making its products.

War on Want is part of the Playfair 2012 campaign, a coalition of trade unions and charities calling on the organisers of the London Olympics and companies to ensure that workers producing sportswear and goods with the Olympic logo are not exploited.

Adidas is the 2012 Games' official sportswear partner, but has refused to commit to ensure that its suppliers pay a living wage or that workers have the right to join a union.

Olympic flag

The alert comes hours before a Trafalgar Square ceremony featuring London Mayor Boris Johnson, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, 2012 Games organising committee chairman Lord Sebastian Coe, and government ministers Jeremy Hunt and Hugh Robertson.

In a recent survey of 83 factories, supplying sportswear brands including Adidas, Nike and Speedo, the International Garment and Leather Workers' Federation found that Sri Lankan workers, most of them women, tended to earn only 10,000 rupees (£55) a month, less than half a living wage of 23,500 rupees (£131) a month. [1]

In one Sri Lankan factory workers had to work 90-100 hours' overtime a month.

Meanwhile, two factories in Sri Lanka conducted pregnancy tests on women potential workers and refused to hire expectant mothers.

Earlier this month an investigation by the Associated Press alleged that Indonesian workers were paid only 30p a day to produce Nike trainers and were routinely hit and abused by their bosses.

Greg Muttitt, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: “Many people are excited that the London Olympics are now only 12 months away. But for workers turning out sportswear for top brands, today is just another marathon shift at the factory, with insufficient pay to make ends meet. Companies like Adidas must not wrap themselves in the flag of the Olympics unless they can ensure human rights are respected in their supply chains.”

Adidas sportswear is promoted by David Beckham, who helped London succeed with its bid to stage the Olympics next year.

Nike sponsors the US Olympic team.

And Speedo sponsors Rebecca Adlington, who won two swimming Olympics gold medals for Britain at the 2008 Games in Beijing.


  1. The ITGLWF surveyed 83 factories supplying major sportswear brands, in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. The survey was carried out in late 2010. It is available at: http://www.itglwf.org/lang/en/documents/ITGLWFSportswearReport2011.pdf

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728


A Living Wage for Workers

The right to be paid a living wage is a basic entitlement of all working people the world over, whether they work in the public or private sectors, in the global South or North.

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