Friday, March 19, 2010
CONSUMER AFFAIRS- INTERNATIONAL LABOUR:
HOCKEY STICKS AND SOLIDARITY:
An old anarchist once remarked that "none will be free until all are free". Recent events have given the 1,000,000,000th proof of this aphorism. What follow below is news from the Vancouver Sun of a recall notice from Health Canada for (literally) 100,000 hockey sticks sold in Canada but actually manufactured in China. To say the least this has been all over the media in recent days, much more so than the 'Canadian souvenirs' manufactured in China for the recent Winter Olympics. The problem is excessive lead levels in the paint on the hockey sticks. Yeah, they may or may not be a threat to Canadian children. I'll withhold judgement on that matter. What I will not withhold judgement on is the obvious fact that they are a much greater and obvious threat to the workers in China who manufacture them. But...
A LITTLE MOLLY NOTICE:
IT WASN'T AS IF THERE WASN'T FAIR WARNING
Looking through the Health Canada site Molly came on the following item from back in October 2008, In that month Health Canada had to recall a lot of 3,240 "mini-hockey sticks", once more from China and once more with excessive lead content. Yet...it happened again. THIS has not hit the popular media yet, though I hope that it will. It says something about the "efficiency" of the agencies that are supposed to protect consumers against this sort of thing. The CBC occasionally drops by this blog. If they catch this I hope they pick it up and run with it.
While emphasizing my own home province of Manitoba and secondarily Canada in general this blog has always been internationalist. This particular item is a stunning example of why internationalism is important, whatever the mean spirited criticisms that may be directed towards it. The chain of causation is obvious. Low wages and repressive government policies in China end up affecting consumers in North America. Even if you don't have hockey playing kids the number of points of interaction in the present global economy are endless.
It is very much in the self interest of people in country "A" to be in solidarity with workers in countries "B to Z" because the "drive to the bottom" of the international corporate economy means that the people of country "A" have to endure side effects of the exploitation of people in other countries. The great "hockey stick scandal" is just the most recent example. Thus, Molly says, pay attention when this blog asks for your support for workers on the other side of the world. In the end your ass is on the line as well. Here's the news of the recall from Health Canada via the Vancouver Sun.
Andre Bard, manager of Pro Hockey Life in Kanata, Ont., removes recalled Bauer sticks.
One of Canada's largest sports equipment manufacturers is recalling 100,000 children's hockey sticks around the world after Health Canada warned the company of the sticks' high lead content.
"We immediately ordered the sticks pulled from stores," Bauer Hockey CEO Kevin Davis said Thursday in an interview.
Nearly 67,000 sticks from 13 recalled Nike Bauer junior and youth models were sold in Canada between 2004 and 2009, he said. All of the sticks, except one model, were manufactured before 2008 in one of the company's Chinese factories, Davis said.
The worldwide recall is just the latest in a series of incidents involving Chinese-manufactured children's products. The issue first grabbed headlines in 2007 when approximately 470,000 toys in Canada and 25.6 million in the U.S. were recalled because of lead paint.
Thursday's massive recall was prompted after Health Canada informed Bauer on Feb. 18 that it had conducted a random test and discovered the paint on the Nike Bauer Supreme One 50 composite stick contained lead well in excess of the allowable limit. The Health Canada analysis showed that the paint on the recalled sticks contained a total lead level of 2.3 per cent, nearly 40 times the maximum allowable limit of 0.06 per cent, said Stephane Shank, a Health Canada spokesman in an e-mail.
On March 9, Health Canada issued an initial recall of the nearly 8,000 sticks that were sold in Canada.
"We immediately began to independently test all 200 models of our hockey sticks," said Jones.
The Bauer testing turned up the 12 other models which have now been ordered off store shelves, he said.
Lead is extremely toxic for young children because they absorb it more easily than adults, making them more susceptible to its harmful effects.
According to Shank, the government agency has proposed lowering the maximum allowable lead level in some children's products to 0.0009 per cent from 0.06 per cent.
No illnesses related to the hockey stick recall have been reported to Bauer or to Health Canada.
Davis said when consumers return one of the recalled sticks, they will receive a brand new "elite level" hockey stick.