Xinhua News Agency

Firm hired primary students

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am

A company in Dongguan , Guangdong, has sub-contracted product labelling orders to a workshop which hired primary school students to do the work.

The company - Lekit Stationery, which has Taiwanese investment - was among the four companies named in a report by Playfair 2008, an international alliance of trade unions and NGOs, as using child labour to make Olympic merchandise.

Quoting officials from the Dongguan city government, Xinhua said the orders sub-contracted by Lekit did not involve Olympic merchandise but authorities were still investigating whether the company had violated any labour codes.

On Monday organisers of the Beijing Olympics vowed to take the allegations against the four companies seriously and threatened to revoke the licences of any companies in violation of the law. Attempts to contact Lekit Stationery yesterday were unsuccessful. On Monday the company denied it had hired child labour to make Olympic merchandise.

According to Xinhua, Lekit sub-contracted a workshop opposite its factory to label its products for six days in February because of a shortage of staff. An investigation found the workshop hired about a dozen primary school students to do the manual work.

'Until now, investigators have not found [anything wrong] with Olympic merchandise made by Lekit,' Xinhua quoted Dongguan authorities as saying, but added that an investigation would continue.

The report did not say if Lekit or the workshop it enlisted would face any penalty for hiring primary school students to do the work. But it quoted the Dongguan city government as saying it would publicise the results of its investigation to 'wipe out illegal practices in hiring people'.

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said yesterday the investigation into the Playfair allegations was ongoing and its results would be released 'in due course'.

Playfair, meanwhile, issued a statement urging Beijing Olympic organisers not to cancel contracts with the factories it accused of exploiting child labour.

'The workers in these factories have been subjected to serious exploitation - the Beijing Games Committee should insist that the companies respect the fundamental rights of these workers, and should not cut and run from a problem for which the Olympic movement and in particular the International Olympic Committee itself must take full responsibility,' the statement said.

'We call upon the Beijing Committee not to end the contracts and thus cause further harm to the workers, but to join efforts to get the IOC and the worldwide Olympic movement to ensure fair play for the people who make Olympic licensed products.'