BWI files complaints with Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

05 March 2018 13:34


On 1 March the BWI filed two complaints with the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG), alleging separate instances of workers’ rights violations. The first complaint relates to the recent death of a construction worker on a Tokyo 2020 construction site, while the second refers to violations of the right to freedom of association in Tokyo 2020’s timber supply chains.

“While Tokyo 2020 may have talked a big game about human rights and sustainability, the workers that will make Tokyo 2020 possibly have a different story to report,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “In lodging these complaints, we are giving TOCOG an opportunity to address these issues and work with us to find a solution.”

The first complaint concerns a worker who was killed between a tower crane and metal scaffolding on the construction site of the Olympic Athletes Village.

“This is the second construction worker that has died building the infrastructure required to hold the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, and we are deeply concerned that if there is no further action at this stage that it may not be the last,” continued Yuson.

“Japan is a highly-developed economy with the latest technology available to ensure workers’ safety at the worksite. If workers are dying, then it is clear that there are serious flaws, in particular with regard to labour management.   We strongly urge TOCOG to undertake joint safety and labour inspections to prevent future accidents and deaths.”

The second complaint concerns the procurement of timber for the New National Stadium from a Sarawak-based supplier, Zedtee Plywood, that has violated workers’ rights to freedom of association, including fabricating allegations against a worker and terminating him arbitrarily.

“We are deeply concerned about the high proportion of timber procured for Tokyo 2020 projects from countries with poor labour standards,” said Yuson. “In this instance the timber was from a certified supplier; however, at this particular company, there were insufficient guarantees that workers would not be arbitrarily dismissed simply for exercising their right to freedom of association.”

The complaints have been filed based on the criteria outlined in TOCOG’s Sustainable Sourcing Code, even though the Code’s jurisdiction is limited to TOCOG-managed projects. This effectively excludes a majority of the workers building Tokyo 2020 infrastructure or in its related supply chains.