Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SA2010 Mascot Sweatshop Shut Down

This could be one of the seedier stories of South Africa 2010, and here's the latest:

The Chinese factory making "Zakumi" mascot dolls has been shut down, and we would like to think because it was paying its workers next to nothing. (Well, about $3 a day, actually.) And maybe that is the case.

It gets a little cheesier than the overt exploitation of Chinese workers.

Some of the workers are children.

As the story notes, the factory in/near Shanghai is owned by an ethnic Chinese who now lives in South Africa and in a member of parliament for the ruling party, the African National Congress.

Hmm. Not a great example. And the organizers haven't been exactly diligent, have they, about seeing where the contracts for dolls have gone.

Cosatu, the umbrella labor organization in South Africa, is not happy about any of this. It believes all souvenirs pertaining to the World Cup to be made in South Africa. For a decent wage. There has been talk of boycotts, etc.

And Fifa alleges to be shocked (shocked, I tell you) that this is going on. It took newspapers investigating to bring it to light, but at least Fifa didn't quite have the brass to say, "So what," issuing statements about how all the other souvenirs are legit.

However, the story quotes the owner as suggesting that the sweatshop will be open again soon. See, they're paying the folks more, etc.

This isn't over. Not if tens of thousands of figurines from exploited workers are knocking around South Africa and selling for something like 100 times what they cost to be made.

The irony of this is that China, a worker's paradise, is the country doing the exploiting, and South Africa, in theory a capitalist country, is the place with labor unions complaining. The world is upside down.
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