I have never considered myself a particularly avid fan of nautical sports, but swimmers at this summer's Beijing Olympics have left me speechless more than once. In addition to the truly spectacular shows of athleticism, what these swimmers are wearing is also equally fascinating... Speedo has received quite a bit of buzz about their new suits (see photo of Michael Phelps, from a recent BBC article), which are supposedly partly responsible for the unprecedented number of broken records. Unfortunately, none of the press I have read gives any mention to the Chinese workers who manufacture Speedo bathing suits.
The National Labor Committee published a report of working conditions at the Guangzhou Vanguard Water Sport Products Company Ltd in Guangzhou, China. "Workers assigned to the compression molding machines, which form the swim masks, must complete one operation every nine to twelve seconds, 310 to 410 per hour and 3,720 to 4,920 operations during the daily 12-hour shift. Production line workers are allowed just one-and-a-half minutes to assemble each Speedo “Condor” swim mask for which they are paid less than two cents."
Click here for the full article by the National Labor Committee
BBC Article about the new Speedo bathing suit