USAS Response to 9/28/12 Adidas Group Statement on PT Kizone
We are disappointed to learn that, even after Cornell University’s recent decision to sever ties with the company over labor rights abuse, Adidas once again has refused to accept responsibility for the $1.8 million in severance pay owed to its 2,800 former workers at the PT Kizone factory. Instead, the company has attempted to hide the crisis of compliance in its supply chain with a web of mistruths and misdirection. Here are just three examples that contrast Adidas’ claims with reality:
Claim: Adidas had “no business relationship with [PT Kizone] for nearly six months prior to its closure.”
Fact: Adidas has knowingly misled universities and the public about its relationship with PT Kizone, citing at least three different dates by which the company supposedly terminated its relationship with PT Kizone. The fact remains that Adidas disclosed the factory as a college supplier in April 2011, the same month the factory closed. Moreover, according to the Worker Rights Consortium, violations began at PT Kizone in September 2010, when Adidas indisputably produced at the factory.
Claim: “The adidas Group has directly dedicated more towards the former PT Kizone workers than any other brand.”
Fact: Adidas has not paid a single cent of the $1.8 million in severance owed to the former PT Kizone workers. Moreover, the union representing the PT Kizone workers explicitly rejected Adidas’ food vouchers and rehiring program as an insulting substitute for legally-owed severance pay; some workers have even been forced to sell their vouchers on the black market in order to pay for their children’s school expenses.
Claim: Adidas again highlights its job placement program as evidence of their efforts on behalf of the former PT Kizone workers.
Fact: In a moment of candor, Adidas itself admitted in a letter to PT Kizone workers in July that its job placement program ”has not demonstrated satisfying results because most of the job openings have been outside the area/location desired by the workers.” A similar rehiring program in the aftermath of the Hermosa factory closure in 2005 did not result in a single worker involved in the dispute finding work in an Adidas supplier factory.
While we welcome long-term solutions to abuses in Adidas’ supply chain, the company’s latest “Provident Fund” scheme is no such solution. Adidas is developing the scheme alongside the Fair Labor Association, an organization funded and controlled by Adidas and other brands, which described Foxconn factories as “improving” shortly before worker riots broke out last week. While the problems of corporate self-monitoring are well known, the recent revelation that Social Accountability International, a similar corporate-funded monitor, gave a clean bill of health to the Ali Enterprises facility in Pakistan just weeks before the tragic fire that killed nearly 300 workers, makes it even clearer that such efforts are not a credible response to the crisis of compliance in Adidas’ supply chain, nor the immediate plight of the former PT Kizone workers.
Instead of convening meetings in the Alps to discuss disingenuous solutions to their labor rights abuse, Adidas should pay their former PT Kizone workers the money they’re owed, and, once and for all, accept responsibility for the workers who make their products.