SWC mascot production stops
Zakumi (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - A Chinese factory has halted production of World Cup 2010 mascot toys after an investigation into alleged sweatshop conditions, the merchandise company for world football body FIFA said Tuesday.
Global Brands Group, master licensee for all FIFA World Cup 2010 merchandise, withdrew manufacturing approval after an audit of the factory showed standards had been flouted.
"The audit identified a number of non-conformances against Global Brands CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy," the company said in a statement.
"In the interim, the approval for this factory to manufacture these figurines has been temporarily suspended, affording them the opportunity to put in place corrective actions and measures."
The group launched the probe after reports that the factory, which produced figures of the event's dreadlocked leopard mascot Zakumi, employed teenage workers, ran 13-hour shifts and paid just $3 a day.
The reports outraged South Africa's largest labour federation Cosatu, which on Tuesday argued that 2010 merchandise should be sourced locally for Africa's first World Cup tournament.
The factory, Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products, was contracted by a South African licensee which is owned by a member of parliament from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
"It is outrageous that a public representative of the ANC, which is committed to policies to create decent work, can take such a callous decision which has deprived South African workers of employment," Cosatu said.
"Cosatu is adamant that the work should never have been outsourced to China in the first place," it added.
Conditions at the Chinese factory will be re-assessed after the suspension, with the South African licensee working to ensure compliance with ethical standards, the Global Brands Group said.
"A corrective action plan has been put together with the manufacturer to close the gaps and make the necessary improvements," it said.