Posts Tagged ‘London Olympics’

Olympic torch relay

July 20, 2012
Olympic torch relay Guildford

Olympic torch relay Guildford

I had excellent lunch at The Keystone (one of the best places to eat in Guildford). As it was only mid-afternoon, I thought hop on the bus to Godalming.

Not possible, said the bus driver, Godalming blocked off due to Olympic torch relay, due later in Guildford.

Maybe naive, but I always though the Olympic torch was lit in Athens (or wherever in Greece), then relays of runners took the torch to the next Olympic venue.

Not so. Today the Olympic torch was passing through Surrey. From Godalming, runners would not be carrying it to Guildford. It would be brought to Guildford, then carried through the High Street.

I wandered up the High Street. It was around 4pm, the torch was not due until 6pm. The High Street was already busy with people waiting for the torch.

I popped into to see Ben in Ben’s Records. Told him either go home before 5pm, or not until gone 7pm, as roads were closed. He said it was ok, as he was in Guildford that evening.

I wandered back into the High Street and secured a prime location on the curb. It reminded me of sitting on the curb in Puerto de la Cruz some months back watching the carnival procession.

Various vehicles came through, police on motorcycles, overhead a helicopter, touts selling flags and Olympic gold medals (fakes not the real thing).

Slowly slowly, the High Street filled up.

6-15 and the bells of Holy Trinity Church. No sign of the torch. I assume that was when it arrived in Guildford, as I had been told it would arrive at 6-15.

Then a bus that had Olympic torches in it. I was told a support vehicle.

Then carnival floats of the corporate sponsors, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Lloyds-TSB Bank.

The floats were pathetic compared with the Carnival floats in Puerto de la Cruz, and there they are local people, or if sponsored, it will be a local bar. And why is Lloyds-TSB a corporate sponsor when they were bailed out by the taxpayer? All part and parcel of the obscenity of corporate sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics.

Then what everyone had been waiting for, the Olympic torch. Blink, and you missed it.

And then that was it, it was all over.

It was only when everyone started milling around you realised how many people there was there.

It was now about 6-45.

I had a wander around, then walked to the station to catch a train. I just missed a train at 7-30. I waited for the Reading train due in at 7-36. I could not believe how crowded was the platform both for the Reading train and the London train. I had never seen anything like it. A lot of people must have travelled in to Guildford for the torch relay.

I took photos and almost got arrested. I was asked why I was taking photos. Not allowed, security reasons.

The Reading train came in several minutes late. How everyone got on three coaches I do not know. The train must have been very overloaded as it pulled away very very slowly.

I arrived home at around 9pm to learn the torch was now in London. Guildford must have been its final leg, exactly one week before the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

That night, a big celebration in Stoke Park in Guildford (where Guilfest was held last weekend), but only those in the know got tickets.

It is strange, far more interest has been shown in the Olympic torch relay than the Olympics. Maybe people feel more involved, even thought they are bystanders, not participants.

The one exception has been Aldershot, where the local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, for some perverse reason of their own, kept the whole event secret, with the torch being paraded around an army ground to invited guests only. Local residents only found out after the event. Not surprisingly there was a lot of anger locally. It would also explain why so many people travelled to Guildford to see the torch carried through the High Street.

I am one of those who has carried the Olympic torch!

Adidas worker exploitation for London 2012 Olympics

June 7, 2012
Adidas exploitation

Adidas exploitation

Adidas, one of the London 2012 sponsors, has been accused of sourcing its tat from sweatshops.

As Adidas take centre stage as the official sportswear partner of London 2012, the harsh reality of life for the workers who make their clothes is being exposed.

Workers making Adidas clothes around the world are paid poverty wages, have little or no job security and face harassment or dismissal if they try and organise trade unions to defend their rights.

This is exploitation. It’s not ok for Adidas to treat workers like this in the UK, and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else.

Adidas – which has more than 775,000 workers making its products in 1,200 factories across 65 countries – is the official sponsor of Team GB, with footballers such as David Beckham tipped to join UK Olympic hopefuls Jessica Ennis and Christine Ohuruogu.

In March, Adidas unveiled its best-ever annual profits, reporting an 18% rise in net profits in 2011 to 671m euros ($881m; £559m).

In April media reports cited workers supplying Adidas in Indonesia receiving as little as 34 pence an hour, with some factories paying less than the minimum wage. Employees were verbally abused, slapped in the face and told to lie about their conditions during Adidas factory audits.

In May, research by the Playfair 2012 campaign found workers making Adidas goods being paid poverty wages and forced to work excessive overtime. The research found people in China working from 8am to 11pm. In Sri Lanka researchers found people being forced to work overtime in order to meet production targets. In the Philippines, more than half the workers interviewed said that in order to cover their basic needs they are forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for high-interest loans. At all of the factories researchers visited, workers reported that they were not paid a living wage that covers their basic needs.

Today, War on Want added its voice calling for an end to Adidas exploitation.

It is not only Adidas tat that is sourced from sweatshops. The official tat for the London 2012 Olympics is also sourced from sweatshops.

I am always amazed that anyone wastes their money on this overpriced tat. Fast fashion as opposed to slow fashion.

What a breath of fresh air, the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations that took place over the last four days, no corporate sponsorship.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, John Carlos used his moment on the winner’s podium to make a stand for human rights. His gesture of resistance, as part of the civil rights movement, and in solidarity with those living under Apartheid in South Africa and blue collar workers in the States, is a defining moment in the struggle for equality, justice and peace.

That struggle still continues today. John Carlos has been touring the UK, speaking out.

The unwanted London 2012 Olympics will result in massive congestion in London, Olympic only traffic lanes, criminalisation of those who challenge the sponsoring brands, blocking of accounts on twitter …

London 2012 Olympics sweatshop misery

June 1, 2012

For Londoners, the London 2012 Olympics will be a summer of misery. Their misery is as nought to those working in the sweatshops who supply the goods.

Workers making Olympic sportswear for London 2012 for top brands and high street names including Adidas and Next are being paid poverty wages, forced to work excessive overtime and threatened with instant dismissal if they complain about working conditions.

A worker at an Adidas Olympics supplier factory in the Philippines, working on minimum wage for 10 years without a pay-rise:

We are forced to take overtime work so at least it supplements our take-home pay. Otherwise, how can I survive with such meagre income, how can I pay rent for the small room where I stay, cope with my daily necessities, and send some money for my family in the province? At the end of the day it is zero balance; there are no savings left for whatever uncertain things may happen to me and my family.

A few examples of the continued systematic and widespread exploitation of workers in sportswear factories:

  • Poverty wages were found across the board. In Sri Lanka, some workers have to survive on around £1.78 a day, little above the UN’s official poverty line, and only 25% of the amount needed for a living wage, enabling workers to live in dignity. In the Philippines, 50% of workers were forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for pay day loans to get them through the month.
  • Workers had legal benefits systematically denied to them by repeated use of short term contracts. Employers used these to avoid paying social insurance including pensions, sick leave and maternity benefits.
  • Workers were forced to perform overtime under threat of losing their jobs.
  • In all 10 factories there was no recognised union or credible workers’ representatives, meaning workers had no voice on pay and conditions. In China workers were threatened with job losses for distributing leaflets that could ‘hamper employer-employee relationships; and in the Philippines all workers interviewed said that they were scared to join a union as they would lose their jobs.
  • Living conditions showed the poverty levels experienced by workers. Chinese workers shared cramped and overcrowded rooms with hot water only available after 23:00, when their shift finished.

Those making the consumer junk, the mascots and toys, fare no better.

A worker at a Chinese sweatshop making London 2012 mascots:

Consumers may feel the Olypmic mascots are fun and cute, they will never think of the hard work, low wages…..we have in the factory.

A few examples of working conditions in two factories in China producing the Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Manderville, and London 2012 pin-badges:

  • Poverty pay, in some cases below the legal minimum, where workers were not paid enough to cover their most basic needs, and benefit payments for pensions and medical insurance were not paid in accordance with Chinese law. For example, a worker making an Olympic mascot could be paid as little as £26 a week, while a mascot can retail for around £20. An average living wage is around £225 a month.
  • Excessive overtime, sometimes up to 100 hours a month, nearly three times the legal limit in China. Some workers were doing 24-hour shifts, while others were working seven days a week. Overtime was often compulsory.
  • Child labour was used in the factory producing pin badges.
  • Workers were locked into a five-year contract and had to pay a fine if they tried to leave beforehand. At one factory, workers were not given a contract of employment, and in the other factory, workers did not receive pay-slips. In both factories, workers did not fully understand how their wages and over-time were calculated.
  • Workers did not receive health and safety training in both factories, and would tend to forgo wearing protective equipment, when provided, so they could work faster and earn more – to top up their poverty pay.
  • Workers were prevented from joining unions in both factories, and it was made clear to them that anyone engaging in trade union activities would be dismissed.
  • Evidence of audit fraud – with workers coached on how to answer auditor’s questions, and in some cases bribed to give the correct answers.

An ethical Olympics?

Twitter shut down account of opponents of London 2012 Olympics

May 23, 2012

The Twitter account of protest group Space Hijackers has been suspended following a complaint by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics.

Once again we are seeing the copyright thugs in action. Draconian legislation has been passed to protect the branding of the London 2012 Olympics and their sponsors.

For residents of London, the London 2012 Olympics will be a nightmare summer.

Space Hijackers, whose account has been blocked following a complaint by the London 2012 Olympics, were hardly likely to bring down the International Olympic Committee (more’s the pity) and capitalism along with it (not through Twitter at least). One can only conclude that this is an act of petty, vindictive censorship, hardly in the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness the Olympics is supposed to promote.

And who are the major the sponsors of the London 2012 Games, not the brands who are being protected, but the public. The long-suffereing public who in London at least are going to have a summer of misery whilst the unwanted Games take place.

Shame on twitter who gave in to the London 2012 Olympics.

London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands

April 14, 2012

As London ramps up for the 2012 Olympics, a dystopian regime of policing and censorship on behalf of the games’ sponsors is coming online. A special squad of “brand police” will have the power to force pubs to take down signs advertising “watch the games on our TV,” to sticker over the brand-names of products at games venues where those products were made by companies other than the games’ sponsors, to send takedown notices to YouTube and Facebook if attendees at the games have the audacity to post their personal images for their friends to see, and more. What’s more, these rules are not merely civil laws, but criminal ones, so violating the sanctity of an Olympic sponsor could end up with prison time for Londoners.

Esther Addley documents the extent of London’s corporatism for The Guardian:

“It is certainly very tough legislation,” says Paul Jordan, a partner and marketing specialist at law firm Bristows, which is advising both official sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses on the new laws. “Every major brand in the world would give their eye teeth to have [a piece of legislation] like this. One can imagine something like a Google or a Microsoft would be delighted to have some very special recognition of their brand in the way that clearly the IOC has.”

As well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word “Olympics”, the five-rings symbol and the Games’ mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised “association”. This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. Expressions likely to be considered a breach of the rules would include any two of the following list: “Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve”.

Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach. The two-word rule is not fixed, however: an event called the “Great Exhibition 2012” was threatened with legal action last year under the Act over its use of “2012” (Locog later withdrew its objection).

The London Olympic bid insisted that these restrictions were necessary to get the sponsors, and of course, they were bidding against other cities who were also making promises to police their residents’ free speech and personal expression. Each games’ sponsor doubles down on the previous games’ restrictions and surveillance, which suggests that by 2020, the winning bid will include a promise to imprison all non-attendees for the duration of the games, and permanently tattoo sponsors’ logos on the faces and chests of all ticket-buyers.

Posted by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing.

If UK Uncut or anyone else wishes to sabotage the games, then be outside the venues with unauthorised branding.

London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands
Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights

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