For the Greek people the Olympic games of 2004 were not
just a big event because of the "appointment"
with the international community and the media. Years before
the crucial August of 2004 the goal was to open the hot
issue of organizing the first Olympics without commercial
companies, the fist Olympics without big sponsors.
At the same time many actors of the civil society (NGOs,
Trade Unions, International Networks) put on the agenda
the ethical dimension of the games. Not only because of
the fact that the strong majority of the workers building
the Olympic installations were economical refugees from
Balkan and African countries but also the role of the "famous"
athletic companies and the profile of Greece as part of
the "Olympic family".
In the period before the opening of the Olympic games there
was a big debate at the Greek Trade Unions Confederation.
It was about our active participation and that's why we
welcomed on our congress of March 2004 the representatives
of the Fair Olympics Campaign. We agreed to participate
and to act together with all the other partners, supporting
the big event a day before the official opening of the Olympics
From the side of the Greek Trade Unions, the Youth Secretariat
was responsible for organizing all the necessary steps and
to make preparations on local level for the big event of
August. It was really an interesting period because we were
the only organization with an alternative view for the Olympics.
We had the opportunity to contact the Greek media and the
NGO sector in preparations for the August event and the
reaction was positive.
A week before the August event in our headquarters in Athens
we hosted a big team of people from a lot of countries and
we established a real red line mechanism to prepare all
the details. It was really very interesting, the searching
for the representatives of the big media outside the "Olympic
hotels", the effort to enter even in the big press
conferences (it was the days of the scandal with the Bulgarian
Olympic Committee) and the whole atmosphere of the team
On August 10 there was a big media event involving setting
up a "factory" on a hotel rooftop in Athens overlooking
the Acropolis. Women worked behind sewing machines, wearing
masks to draw attention to the fact that the working lives
of women who make sportswear are usually hidden from public
attention. Engin Sedat Kaya from Turkey and Ms. Parkati
from Indonesia described conditions in sportswear production
in their countries. The more than 550.000 signatures that
have so far been collected were presented to the public,
since the International Olympic Committee refused to accept
the signatures in Athens.
The event was covered by most of the major newswire services,
including Reuters, Agence France Press and AP and was picked
up by radio stations, newspapers, TV stations and websites
around the world. In Spain for example six regional newspapers,
one TV station and two radio stations covered the event.
A picture of the stunt was the main photo of the day and
the week on the BBC website and there was a one page article
in the Economist.
Now, almost one year after our event in Athens and the
Olympic games, we believe that it was really an interesting
and successful action. Not only because of the high level
of publicity in the media at those days, but also because
of the results in the level of the International Olympic
Committee. Of course we don't solve the problem immediately,
but with our actions we inform the public opinion about
a very serious but covered problem. The relations between
the sports multinationals and the I.O.C., the working conditions
in the factories of the "famous" sports branches
and the capability of the civil society to comment, act
For the Greek Trade Unions it was an interesting experience
and the beginning of a strong cooperation with NGO organizations
to link with the Ethical and Fair Trade movement and the
beginning to adapt to the Greek society some new actions
of active participation.
For the Greek General Confederation of Labour (G.S.E.E.)