Play Fair 2012: Advocating for workers’ rights in London 2012 and Olympic supply chains

Flickr / Michael Francis McCarthy

Millions of people are employed in the global supply chains that produce souvenir Olympic apparel and athlete uniforms. Through the Play Fair 2012 campaign, a consortium of unions, advocacy groups and non-profit organizations have come together to advocate for the rights of these worker’s.

Building on the original PlayFair 2008, the 2012 campaign is asking organizers of the London 2012 Olympics and global sportswear brands to ensure internationally recognized labour standards are upheld in the production of all materials with the Olympic logo. These include the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Conventions and the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code – standards encompassed by the ILO’s concept of Decent Work.

Progress to date: London 2012 and the International Organizing Committee

In addition to outlining a full Sustainable Sourcing Code and Diversity and Inclusion Business Charter, the London organizers have included the labour standards in the Ethical Trading Initiative base code in their contracts with suppliers. Play Fair 2012 is asking the commitment to ethical sourcing go further, by including stronger labour standards, transparency in factory auditing and a clear course of action for workers reporting abuses.

More than pressuring London 2012 organizers, the Play Fair campaign is asking the International Organizing Committee to promote workers rights in all future Olympic events. The IOC is being asked to include respect for workers’ rights in the Olympic Charter and Code of Ethics as well as in all contracts with companies supplying the games.

playfair2012.org

The PlayFair 2012 website features resources, news stories, event listings as well as a number of informative videos (including a particularly entertaining spoof on setting the world record for hat wearing). Site visitors can participate in the campaign by sending an electronic message to major brands of the Olympics, asking them to raise the bar on workers’ rights. UK-based supporters can also participate in Workers’ Rights Days, a series of free workshops, panels and interactive sessions focused on educating people on workers’ rights in apparel factories around the world.

Pressure is mounting on London and future organizing committees (e.g. Socchi, Rio de Janeiro) to continue the responsible sourcing work started in Vancouver. This is a large topic and complex field.  Reeve Consulting will be actively monitoring developments in ethical and sustainable purchasing for Olympic Games and updating our readers as London 2012 approaches.

Sports, Legacy and Sustainability Dialogue with Bruce Kidd

Are the Olympics worth it?  That was the question posed to the Sports, Legacy and Sustainability panel on March 13, 2010.  Bruce Kidd, former Olympic athlete and guru of sports and sustainability, anchored the panel with an opening reflection on sustainability in Olympics past.  He seemed encouraged by the progress, yet hesitant to answer yes to his question.

Bruce gave credit where credit is due:  VANOC did build some of the greenest buildings in the world to host athletes; it was the first Olympics to embrace Aboriginal participation at the organizing level; and, VANOC’s Buy Smart program broke ground in the area of sustainable purchasing.

The most important legacy of the Games is athleticism, before the environment, before anything according to Kidd.  And although Canada has proudly hosted three Olympic Games, we were disappointed to hear that participation of children and youth in sports in this country is plummeting.

Flickr / adrian8_8

Kidd was joined by Derek Wyatt, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Group and James Tansey of Offsetters.  Wyatt talked candidly about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) lack of commitment to ensuring a sustainable legacy in Host Cities.  In his opinion, Host Cities carry the sustainability agenda with little support from the IOC.

Wyatt is advocating for the IOC to support the creation of an “Olympic University” in London that would provide training and education to disenfranchised inner-city East Londoners.  Wyatt believes this is a missed opportunity.  The Organizing Committee for London 2012 could hire more of the so called “underemployed” inner-City folks from East London if training was provided amongst this population.

James Tansey was more positive and sited the sustainability wins of VANOC including their commitments to offsetting the carbon footprint, the green building designs and the training legacy of the Buy Smart program.

Despite having different priorities, the panellists agreed that Host Cities and those who live there feel a deep sense of human spirit and pride, which in itself is a large legacy.  Human’s need food for the body as well as the heart, said Kidd.  To paraphrase James Tansey:  ‘on that gold medal Sunday, Canadians had so much pride they didn’t know what to do with it’.

This is a debate that will continue.  We see many benefits – but are waiting to learn more about the real results before making a final decision.   What do you think?  “Is it worth it?”  Please post your comments as you begin to reflect on your Olympic legacy.