Zakumi maker forced to stop work

Zakumi maker forced to stop work

2010-03-09 11:37

Johannesburg - A Chinese factory contracted to produce figurines of World Cup mascot Zakumi has been forced to stop work after accusations that it was running a sweatshop, The Times reported on Tuesday.

Fifa's worldwide licensing representative, Global Brands Group, has suspended its approval of Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products and Gifts after an inspection and audit of its factory.

The audit was prompted by international media reports that the workers at the factory were paid R23 a day and teenagers were forced to work 13-hour shifts to manufacture Zakumi figures.

About 100 000 of the figurines were reportedly destined for Ascendo Industrial, a factory and distributor in KwaZulu-Natal, owned by ANC MP Shiaan-Bin Huang and his wife Su-Luan, who subcontracted the work to the factory in China.

Global Brands Group spokesperson Paul Zacks said he could not confirm the conditions at the factory, pending approval of a statement from its head office in Singapore.

But he said the audit identified a number of areas of non-compliance with Global Brands' policy.

A corrective action plan had been put together with the manufacturer to "close the gaps and make necessary improvements".

Meanwhile, approval to make the figurines has been temporarily suspended.

The company hopes the suspension will be lifted by next week.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions said that while it welcomed moves to improve working conditions at the factory, the contract should not have been outsourced.

- Sapa