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Euro support to Play Fair at the Olympics campaign

European Parliament gives support to Play Fair at the Olympics campaign

Brussels: At a meeting in Strasbourg yesterday afternoon (22nd April), the European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution "on the respect for core labour standards in the production of sports goods for the Olympics". The 4-page resolution ( calls for "the key players of the world sportswear and athletic footwear industry - sportswear brands, the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry, and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] - to start negotiations aiming at a sectoral solution fully complying with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) labour standards". An initiative of the Party of European Socialists and the Greens/EFA group, the resolution urges the European Commission to work with the UN's labour agency, the ILO, to ensure that the International Olympic Committee incl

"The international trade union movement wholly welcomes this move. It is unequivocal support for the Play Fair at the Olympics campaign and shows that Europeans are in tune with the concerns of workers and consumers alike. Calls are growing for the global sportswear industry to clean up its act. The IOC and sportswear manufacturers cannot afford to ignore this," said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

Launched on 4th March 2004 by Global Unions (of which the ICFTU is a member), Oxfam and the Clean Clothes Campaign, the Play Fair at the Olympics campaign urges the IOC to recognise its responsibility to challenge abusive labour practices of Olympic sponsors and licencees. At the heart of the Play Fair campaign is the argument that the global sportswear industry needs to reform its purchasing practices and treat labour standards as important a set of criteria as cost, time and quality. This includes the right of workers producing sportswear to join and form trade unions and the right to collective bargaining- fundamental workers' rights which are often denied. Instead workers often earn poverty wages, face punishing work schedules and endure unsanitary health and safety conditions.

The urgency resolution coincided with the campaign's International Forum, organised by the Belgian arm of the Clean Clothes Campaign and hosted at the ICFTU's headquarters in Brussels. The forum which ran from 21st- 22nd April brought together NGOs, trade unions and industry representatives from around the world to debate issues including how to increase accountability among global sportswear manufacturers and the impact of corporate social responsibility on working conditions.

Commenting on the collaboration between European NGOs and trade unions with groups in the developing world within the campaign, Lek Yimprasert, Director of Thai Labour Campaign, said "Without international solidarity we cannot move the sportswear industry to sit up and take notice of the stories behind their products".

Industry and Olympic representatives underlined the important role that NGOs and trade unions can play in changing the way the industry works. Thierry Zintz from the Belgian National Olympic Committee said, "the participation of NGO's and trade unions is necessary to exert pressure on sportswear companies, in a sort of triangular model". A representative from addidas, Frank Henke, echoed this view, arguing in favour of cooperation between civil society and the sportswear industry to change the current scenario.

© Scoop Media

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