Yesterday I briefed the TUC General Council about a landmark agreement, signed today, between the TUC and the organisers of this summer’s 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games. I hope that what the chair of LOCOG - Seb Coe - and I have agreed will deliver better working conditions not just for the people making this year’s Olympic souvenirs, but also for the workers in the supply chains for Rio 2016 and all future Olympiads.
LOCOG had gone further than any previous Games’ organisers in adopting an ethical code and complaints mechanism, but as our research shows this hasn’t been nearly enough to prevent abuses from taking place. However it’s not too late to make a difference for workers producing goods for London. I welcome LOCOG’s acknowledgement that further action is necessary and its commitment to act immediately to ensure that factory owners can no longer exploit workers in the name of the Olympics.
I’m also hopeful that a marker has now been set for all future Games and that the International Olympic Committee will play a leading role in taking this work forward so that the exploitation of workers in Olympic supply chains can become a thing of the past. LOCOG and the TUC – and our campaign partners like Labour Behind the Label – will be working to make sure the lessons are learnt. Indeed, this groundbreaking agreement may also help lead to better working conditions throughout the sporting goods industry.
We want the veil of secrecy lifted from the factories where this work is carried out, because we know that when consumers find out about the conditions under which their goods have been made, they want action taken. And we also want to make sure that the workers themselves know their rights, because they will be the best inspectors, the best auditors and the best champions for better working conditions.
This is what LOCOG Chair Lord Coe had to say about the agreement:
“We place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when securing goods and services. As soon as we were made aware of the Playfair 2012 report, we instructed our independent monitor to carry out a comprehensive investigation and review. The outcome of this will be made public as soon as it is concluded.
“We have taken a lead in ethical sourcing and supply chain management but there is always more to do and we are committed to making a real difference to workers’ lives and creating a valuable legacy that we can share.”