FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Day of Adidas AGM, US, Europe Anti-Sweatshop Advocates Demand $1.8M Owed Indonesian Workers
THURSDAY, MAY 10 – Today, as adidas-Group shareholders gather for adidas’s Annual General Meeting in Fuerth, Germany, the two leading anti-sweatshop groups of North America and Europe publicly urge the company to pay the $1.8 million unlawfully withheld from 2,800 workers at its supplier factory in Indonesia. Despite posting first quarter net profits of $375 million and facing pressure from U.S. universities demanding Indonesian workers. adidas’s top three executives earned a total compensation of $14.5 million in FY 2011, more than six times the sum owed to the 2,800 Indonesian workers. United Students Against Sweatshops, the largest student campaign organization in the U.S., has joined with the Clean Clothes Campaign, a European alliance of organizations advocating better working conditions for garment workers, to ensure adidas’s shareholders address the dire conditions facing the company’s Indonesian workers at their Annual General Meeting today.
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 organization. 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 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.
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’ labor codes of conduct, adidas has flown to campuses across the country defending its stance. At the University of Wisconsin, the company has even threatened to take legal action against the University should the school sever their sponsorship agreement with adidas in response to the company’s refusal to comply with the University’s labor standards.
Facing mounting criticism from universities with lucrative apparel licensing contracts with adidas, the company’s position has shifted from entirely shirking 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,” said Teresa Cheng, International Campaigns Coordinator of United Students Against Sweatshops. “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.”
“As a sponsor of the Olympic Games adidas is becoming untrustworthy due to its reaction in this case”, said Lars Stubbe, Urgent Appeals coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign Germany. “A company that publicly supports the Olympic ideals of fairness and respect should not systematically violate workers’ rights.”
adidas’s track record is dismal: 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, see: http://www.playfair2012.org.uk/2012/05/fair-games-human-rights-of-workers-in-olympic-2012-supplier-factories/#more-2521