Chinese kids making badges for London Olympics: Report

February 26th, 2012 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 26 (IANS) A firm in China has reportedly employed children and teenagers in gruelling 11-hour shifts to make badges for the 2012 London Olympics.

The children made souvenirs featuring official mascots Wenlock and Mandeville in a factory “filled with noxious nitric acid fumes”, the Daily Express reported.

Three youngsters who regularly worked at the workplace in Huizhou town in Guangdong province were later relieved from work.

However, there are concerns that many more children were employed during school holidays.

The scandal was exposed after British trade union officials went to China to investigate workers’ rights.

The London Games Organising Committee has now set up a Chinese language hotline if people suspect underage workers are being employed.

The factory — with up to 1,000 workers — supplies products to Chinese firm Honav, whose subsidiary Honav UK Ltd was awarded the contract to make souvenir badges for the Games.

Production began last April. Soon trade union officials visited the site and found two boys and a girl aged 15 working there.

They were reportedly exposed to potentially harmful substances but did not have adequate protection and slept in cramped dormitories with no hot water.

Under Chinese law, children under 16 should not be employed full-time.

Organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe said: “We place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when securing goods and services. We have taken a lead in ethical sourcing and supply-chain management but there is always more to do. We are committed to making a real difference to workers’ lives and creating a valuable legacy that we can share.”

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