Olympic sponsor Adidas under fire on workers rights
31 May 2012
US universities threaten to cut Adidas contract to fight for Indonesian garment workers, who are reportedly owed $1.8 in severance pay.
Anti-sweatshop groups in North America and Europe have publicly urged Adidas to pay the severance pay they say has been ‘unlawfully withheld’ from 2,800 workers at its supplier factory in Indonesia.
They are calling on UK students to take action in solidarity with the workers to help win back their severance pay.
2,800 workers from the now-shuttered PT Kizone factory, a disclosed Adidas supplier until January 2011, sewed Adidas apparel for $0.60 an hour, and were left without their $3.3 million in legally-owed severance pay when the factory closed in April last year, according to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights watchdog organisation.
While the other companies that placed orders in the factory have paid a portion of the severance, Adidas is the only major buyer that has reportedly refused to contribute a penny, creating a crisis for former PT Kizone workers who have had to withdraw their children from school, are barely able to afford two meals a day for their families, and are mired deeper and deeper into debt.
One worker, Tika, says
I really hope I can find more money so my son can go to high school as soon as possible. If he doesn’t have more school, he won’t be able to earn a living. If he does finish school, he can get a job. I’ll be old, I won’t be able to help him soon. Once you’re over 45, it’s hard to find a job even if you have skills. I’m 42 years old now, so I have just three years more.
Universities threaten to cut contracts with Adidas
Renowned U.S. universities have demanded that Adidas end the crisis for former PT Kizone workers, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan, where Adidas provides uniforms and sports equipment for university athletes as part of a $60 million contract. Instead of agreeing to abide by these universities’ labour codes of conduct, Adidas has flown to campuses across the country defending its stance.
Facing mounting criticism from universities with lucrative garment licensing contracts with Adidas, the company’s position has shifted from allegedly denying responsibility to notifying universities they may potentially offer some workers food vouchers, which universities and students critique as “inadequate and distracting”.
Adidas’s sweatshop abuse is outrageous. Adidas’s refusal to pay PT Kizone workers conforms with their shameful track record of abandoning its Indonesian workers, after years of their hard work in helping Adidas make record profits.
said Teresa Cheng, International Campaigns Coordinator of United Students Against Sweatshops.
As a sponsor of the Olympic Games Adidas is becoming untrustworthy due to its reaction in this case. A company that publicly supports the Olympic ideals of fairness and respect should not systematically violate workers’ rights.
said Lars Stubbe, Urgent Appeals coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign Germany
Adidas’s track record is dismal, say the Clean Clothes Campaign: adding that over 10,000 workers from other closed Adidas supplier factories, including at PT Spotec and PT Dong Joe, were never paid the severance they were owed, and six years later, the company has failed to ensure that a majority of them are rehired. Adidas has also been under fire this week for failing to address extensive workers’ rights violations in Olympic production sites
United Students Against Sweatshops and People & Planet are now urgently calling on UK students to take action against Adidas on June 8th-11th, to pile further pressure on the company to pay the severance money to the workers.