Saturday, 22 January 2011
Clothing Companies who force Cruel Child labour #1
Time of scandal: Sunday 19 November, 2000
* (when you see this it means it is not mine)
They are the ultimate status symbols for sports stars and street-conscious young people. With their trademark three stripes, Adidas clothes cost a small fortune to buy and are promoted by world-famous names such as England skipper David Beckham, Olympic heptathlete Denise Lewis and Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. But the company will this week become embroiled in controversy when the European Parliament hears of the barbaric treatment of employees in Indonesian sweatshop factories supplying the German conglomerate.
*(this means that it has ended)
The Parliament will be told that clothes for Adidas were made in two factories using child labour, forced overtime and sexual harassment. Representatives of workers in two Indonesian factories supplying the German company,will tell Euro MPs that in the Nikomax Gemilang and Tuntex factories, in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, children as young as 15 were:
• made to work 15-hour days;
• expected to do at least 70 hours a week and punished for refusing to do overtime;
• paid less than $60 a month, rates below the International Labour Organisation's demand for a living wage;
• penalised for taking leave during medical difficulties and had illegal deductions taken from wages as punishments for minor misdemeanours.
Sports goods companies have been criticised for exploiting workers in the developing world before. There was a storm just before the 1998 World Cup, after footballs bearing the Manchester United club crest were being made by child labourers in India, working for as little as 6p an hour. Cricket ball manufacturers were also criticised.
A report by Christian Aid revealed that children, some as young as seven, were regularly used in the production of a wide range of sports goods in India. Most of the £13m worth of goods went to Britain.
Last year a worker from a Bangkok factory for Adidas claimed that for less than £1 per day she worked 12-hour shifts seven days a week, producing sportswear, shoes and replica kits for the company.
She claimed conditions were poor in the Thai factory and the management acted brutally to meet large orders within a limited time, often denying workers statutory rights such as holidays and sick pay. The accusations are similar to those made by the Indonesian workers.
The woman was eventually sacked in 1998 along with 23 others after they formed a union in an attempt to win more rights. The factory management claimed she was a disruptive influence.
Most Adidas goods are produced in Third World countries, particularly Asia, with orders awarded to locally run factories. Many orders are sub-contracted at local level, leading to claims that the companies have little idea of where and how their goods are produced.
Adidas denies ignoring workers' rights for the sake of profit, claiming they have strict labour codes and constantly monitoring wage levels and conditions to ensure a good working environment.
Adidas spokesman Peter Csanadi countered the allegations: 'We have factories where the conditions are very good and we take this whole issue very seriously,' he said. 'We know we have had problems, and we had to terminate some contracts because we saw that the management were not interested in good working conditions.
'We work closely with factory management and demand that they ensure good conditions for workers. We also have a team of our own people who go to factories to sort out problems.'
Adidas, whose football shirts sell in a British high street store for more than £50, have admitted problems at the two Indonesian factories and have recently increased pay and taken steps to ease overtime demands. Copies of the labourers' identity cards are now held at the Nikomas factory to ensure that no under-18s work there.
The company admitted that at the Tuntex plant quotas were set too high. Workers complained of being fined for coming to work five minutes late. Adidas confirmed that women who took leave when menstruating, as legally entitled, lost an attendance bonus of 6,000 Rupiah (50p) and that a manager had been sacked for sexual harassment.
Pay at the Nikomas plant was increased to more than 9,000 Rs (75p per day) following the campaigners complaints, Adidas said.
The campaigners hope that the publicity surrounding the hearings next week will force states to become involved in the regulatory process.
Ingborg Wick, who oversaw much of the research, said that government involvement was crucial.
'There has to be some overview of voluntary codes that companies sign with campaigners. There also needs to be an institutional framework and legal monitoring to ensure social standards in Third World production,' she said.