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Olympic mascot maker rejects sweatshop claims

[ 2012-02-08 16:32]     字号 [] [] []  
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Representatives of the Chinese manufacturer of Olympic mascot dolls on Tuesday said reports claiming its products were made in sweatshops had been based on untrue information and its factory is open to international organizations and the media for inspections.

Gu Feng, chairman of the board of Yancheng Rainbow Arts and Crafts Co, located in East China's Jiangsu province, made the comment at a news conference in response to previous reports by British newspaper the Sun.

On Jan 19 and 23, the Sun published stories calling the factory a "sweatshop". The reports said that workers in the factory need to work 358 hours a month to make only 93 pounds, roughly 930 yuan ($147). "The Chinese workers quoted by the Sun as the factory's employees did not even exist," Gu said.

He said that Zhu Shengrong, who was interviewed by the US-based Voice of America (VOA) earlier, fabricated the story to tarnish the factory's reputation out of retribution for his dismissal.

In its report, VOA quoted Zhu as saying that he was forced to work about 14 hours a daywithout overtime pay.

"Zhu was fired by our factory in the first half of 2008 due to repeated inappropriate contact with some female colleagues," Gu said.

Zhu had demanded compensation for an industrial injury but was rejected by the local courts.

Gu said the factory had passed inspections from the International Council of Toy Industries and the Societe Generale de Surveillance SA, a Switzerland-based multinational company that provides inspection services.

The Yancheng factory is also an authorized manufacturer for the mascots of Disney and the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

John Hales, chairman of Golden Bear, the company that owns the license to produce the official mascots for the London Olympics and Paralympics, also confirmed in a statement that the factory has passed inspections.

"Founded in 1997, our factory has a long history in producing mascots with high quality, and our 72 workers have a neat working environment and relatively good salaries," Gu said.

The monthly salary of an employee who is not absent from work is about 2,000 yuan, Gu said.

Xia Senlin, a 30-year-old woman who has worked for Rainbow since September 2008, said that her salary was 2,158 yuan in November 2011. She worked 26 days that month.

Workers in the factory make 5.16-5.94 yuan for every Wenlock and Mandeville doll produced, Gu said. "The Sun's report that workers only get 18 pence per item is untrue."

However, he admitted that the factory does not interfere if some unskilled workers choose to work overtime to finish their workload.

"It is untrue to label our factory a sweatshop, and we can stand up to scrutiny," Gu said.

A 2012 London Olympic Games spokesman said that an independent monitor has been asked to carry out a comprehensive investigation and review the allegations of a breach of workers' rights.

Golden Bear is also launching its own investigation into the allegations.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Olympic mascot maker rejects sweatshop claims

About the broadcaster:

Olympic mascot maker rejects sweatshop claims

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the US, including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.