May 09, Colombo: A report that examines whether garment manufacturers supplying for 2012 London Olympics treat their workers in accordance with their fundamental human rights has accused the Sri Lankan garment manufacturers of violating human rights of workers.
The report "Fair Games ? Human Rights of workers in Olympic 2012 supplier factories" released on May 7th in London by the Play Fair Campaign, has examined whether workers producing sportswear, garments and textiles for the London 2012 Olympics are being treated with respect and dignity and according to their fundamental human rights .
The report examines the practices in three major producers of sports garments - China, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
A total of 175 workers from 10 factories in the three countries have been interviewed from October to December 2011. The factories together employ 32,750 workers and 8 of them were producing goods for the 2012 Olympics.
In Sri Lanka, respondents included machine operators, store keepers, supervisors, helpersand middle management of both genders. Data have been collected from 60 respondents in four factories by the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees' Union.
The brands sourcing from the factories included Adidas, New Balance, North Face, Columbia Sportswear Company, Next, Nike, Speedo and Ann Taylor.
The report says the campaign's researchers who also conducted interviews with factory management, supervisors, labour officials, economic zone agents and trade union officials found widespread abuse of the human rights of workers.
It says in Sri Lanka workers are paid only 22–25 per cent of the living wage of US$357 per month and the management in factories draw up the yearly planner and schedule without consulting workers and by controlling the yearly calendar, the management avoids paying overtime during busy months.
In Sri Lanka, all respondents have said that management did not recognize trade unions. Out of 259 factories in Sri Lanka's Export Processing Zone (EPZ), only 31 have independent trade unions, the report said.
In Sri Lanka the report focuses on four factories - MAS Linea Aqua, MAS Linea Intimo, MAS Silueta and Next Manufacturing - which together employ approximately 8,250 workers.
Researchers have interviewed 60 workers from these factories from October to December 2011. The interviews took place outside the factories, in the local communities and at workers' accommodation.
Three of the factories are located in the Biyagama Export Processing Zone (EPZ) managed by the government's Board of Investment (BOI), which sets wages and working conditions. MAS Linea Aqua is located in Giridara, a rural area about 40 km from Colombo.
"Although Sri Lanka has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, very few workers in the apparel sector are employed in a workplace where these rights are respected," the report says.
Although the apparel industry in Sri Lanka has around 250 factories, there are only five collective bargaining agreements in place, the report adds.
The report says it's vital the International Olympic Committee (IOC) steps up to its role as guardian of the Olympic Games and it demands IOC to take responsibility and make labor rights and decent work a reality for all workers producing for any Olympic Games.
Read the full report here.