Olympic race: Tales of workers' woes

BBC News

Sportswear firms have been accused of exploiting workers in a bid to get products onto shop shelves in time for the Athens Olympics in August.

Oxfam and UK trade unions said the companies were overriding labour standards and treating workers badly.

The accusations are based on interviews with workers and management in China, Bulgaria, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Here are some of the comments made by those interviewed.

Phan, 22, migrant worker in a Thai garment factory

"Every day we work from 8am until noon, then break for lunch. After lunch we work again from 1pm until 5pm. We have to do overtime every day, starting from 5.30pm.

"We work until 2am or 3am during the peak season. We always have to work a double shift. Although we are very exhausted, we have no choice. The management calls us names throughout the time when we work. They call us 'stupid', 'lazy', 'useless' Indonesian factory worker Staff 'exploited' in Olympic rush

"We cannot refuse overtime work, because our standard wages are so low. Sometimes we want to rest, but our employer forces us to work.

"I earn around US$50 (£27) per month, but I pay $3 for electricity, water, and dormitory.

"I also pay $5 for rice. The employer also asks us to pay $7 per month for the workers' registration fee.

"So, I only have $35 left for all my other living expenses. In some months during the low season when I earn less, I only have 30 or 40 cents left that month.

"I would like to demand the improvement of working conditions. However, we do not feel we can demand higher wages, welfare, and legal status."

Krishanti, 28, works in a Bangkok garment factory

"Sometimes we had to work on overtime in a night shift. It upsets the normal body functioning - I work like a machine, not a human being."

Indonesian factory worker

"There is a lot of verbal abuse. The management calls us names throughout the time when we work. They call us 'stupid', 'lazy', 'useless', 'bastard's child' and other crass words.

"They say, 'You don't deserve any more than this.' Some girls start crying. Physical abuse happens too. Our ears are often pulled, and managers yell directly into our ears.

"Pretty girls in the factory are always harassed by the male managers. They come on to the girls, call them into their offices, whisper into their ears, touch them at the waist, arms, neck, buttocks, and breasts, bribe the girls with money and threats of losing their jobs to have sex with them."

Soy, a garment worker at a Cambodian sportswear factory

"They force us to work overtime. If we refuse three times, the managers threaten us with dismissal.

"If we refuse to work on Sundays or public holidays, they also threaten us."