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Violators may lose Olympic contracts

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BEIJING (AP) — Red-faced organizers of the Beijing Olympics threatened yesterday to cancel the contracts of companies using child labor and violating minimum-wage rules to make Olympic-licensed products.

In a report released Sunday, PlayFair 2008 — an alliance of global trade union and labor groups — cited four factories in southern China for labor violations and accused the International Olympic Committee of doing too little to monitor the production of products carrying the official Olympic five-rings logo.

"Companies that seriously violate the regulations will be stripped of their authorization to produce the Olympic products," the Beijing organizing committee said.

Officials of the organizing committee said they had not seen the 30-page report until yesterday. It details the use workers as young as 12 and accuses companies of falsifying employment records and coercing workers to lie about their terms of employment.

The Beijing Olympics are expected to be the most profitable in the Games' history, attracting 500,000 foreign visitors. Corporate sponsors have swarmed, hoping to use the event to crack China's rapidly growing consumer market.

Beijing is spending about $40 billion to rebuild the Chinese capital for the Games, a sharp contrast of the legal minimum wage in southern China of $90 monthly.

The Olympics organizing committee "has strict regulations and obligations for companies that are authorized to produce the Beijing Olympic products," the statement said. "The companies have both administrative and social responsibilities.

"If the companies violated the state laws and the relevant regulations stipulated in the contracts ... [the committee] will seriously deal with them based on the contracts."

The committee confirmed that the four companies named in the report, titled "No medal for the Olympics on labor rights," won contracts to produce official Olympics merchandise including caps, bags and stationery products.

The companies are: Lekit Stationery Co. Ltd.; Yue Wing Cheong Light Products (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd.; Eagle Leather Products Ltd.; and Mainland Headwear Holdings Ltd.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland said it does not have direct control over all official products that carry the Olympic label. It said it has created policies on fair-labor standards that it expects Olympic host cities and licensed manufacturers to follow.

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