From El Salvador to Indonesia: adidas leaves workers in the lurch

It’s now been 14 months since adidas’s PT Kizone factory closed in Indonesia, and left 2,800 workers without the millions of dollars they’re owed in severance pay. Instead of taking responsibility for the workers who sewed adidas apparel for $0.60 an hour as other buyers in the plant have, adidas has resorted to a web of lies and excuses in attempts to evade all responsibility. Unfortunately, this is hardly the first time adidas has left its workers in the dark by refusing to pay them what they’re owed.

In 2005, adidas also abandoned hundreds of workers in the unionized Hermosa factory in El Salvador and robbed them of nearly a million dollars in legally owed severance. To this day, seven years later, former Hermosa workers and their families continue to suffer from the consequences of adidas’s refusal to comply with University anti-sweatshop codes of conduct. Like in the case of PT Kizone, adidas pledged to give Hermosa workers priority rehiring in their other supplier factories, job training, and in fact, to prevent this from ever happening again by engaging with the government and other stakeholders to find “sustainable solutions.” However, adidas broke all these promises, and none of those efforts resulted in workers getting paid what they were owed. Instead, adidas contracted the notorious Fair Labor Association to convene meaningless meetings with workers, and former Hermosa unionists were blacklisted and denied employment in any other adidas supplier factories. Ex-Hermosa workers still struggle to find employment today.

According to a testimony by former Hermosa worker Estela Ramirez, “7 years after the closure of Hermosa, the workers never received any bit of medical attention, even when there were some workers undergoing cancer treatment, which adidas knew about.” Read the whole testimony here.

It doesn’t stop there – according to the Worker Rights Consortium, adidas has refused to pay over 20,000 workers legally-mandated severance in at least four other factories that were located in the same area as PT Kizone, even when adidas was the exclusive or primary client. It is clear adidas has no interest in a real solution to the plight of the many workers who sewed its apparel. adidas’s CEO claims that it is “absurd”  to hold adidas responsible for paying severance to its former PT Kizone workers; this blatant disregard has robbed tens of thousands of adidas workers across the globe of the millions of dollars they’ve earned through hard work and sweat.

Yet today, adidas announced it anticipates selling more than $2 billion in soccer gear alone this year. What will it take for adidas to stop the abuse and to finally pay former PT Kizone workers what they’re legally owed?