The union representing the former PT Kizone workers has written a letter to Adidas calling out the company’s attempts to evade responsibility for payment of the $1.8 million in severance to the workers. In the letter, the workers once again reject food vouchers redeemable at Alfa Mart supermarkets as a legitimate substitute for severance pay:
We told Adidas that Alfa Mart vouchers were not what we need. We need and deserve the severance pay that we earned. However, Adidas refused again to hear our voice. As we have repeatedly told Adidas, our families desperately need money to pay debts, to keep our children in school, to pay rent, and for many other things that are not available at Alfa Mart. Due to their dire need, many workers were forced to beg neighbors or even strangers to buy their Alfa Mart vouchers for much less than they were worth, so that they could use the money to pay for the things they really need. We do not deserve to be treated as beggars, forced to line up outside, without seats, for hours and days only to be given the crumbs Adidas chooses to throw us. We deserve to be paid what we are owed.
After being snubbed in the planning of this week’s Provident Fund summit, the union penned a powerful critique of the summit and the involvement of the Fair Labor Association:
Adidas’ meeting in the Alps is an attempt to distract from the fact that Adidas is still refusing to pay us US1.8 million that we earned while producing apparel for Adidas. It is organized through the Fair Labor Association, which has failed again and again to stand up for workers whose rights are violated, including in the Hermosa case. We do not believe that this meeting will bring justice to us or to any other workers. Before convening international meetings to talk about severance, Adidas should make sure that we — and other workers who have produced for Adidas and been denied severance — are made whole.
In an inspiring display of international solidarity, SITRASACOSI, the union representing former Hermosa workers, also sent a letter to Adidas exposing the company’s true intentions for holding its alpine summit. The letter’s author, Estela Marina Ramirez, was one of the 260 workers who were laid off without payment of $825,000 in legally mandated severance, wages, and benefits when Adidas pulled out of the unionized Hermosa factory in El Salvador in 2005. Read the letter in Spanish or read the letter in English below:
San Salvador October 17, 2012
Dear adidas Group:
Respectful greetings from SITRASACOSI of El Salvador wishing you success in your entrepreneurial efforts.
As an organization committed to defending the interests of the working class and familiar with violations to freedom of association and basic human rights, we have been victims of all these practices committed by Adidas’ suppliers. We recently learned about a forum that is being convened by your company and its ally, the FLA. In light of this pretense, we would like to express our resounding rejection of the event they are calling the “Global Forum for Sustainable Supply Chains” in Switzerland. We consider this forum a manipulative act because of the lack of representation of the affected workers; the only thing intention of the event is to divert the entire world’s attention, which continues to demand that you assume and comply with your principles of corporate social responsibility that you tout so much. Already a year has passed since the closing the PT Kizone garment factory in Indonesia and seven years since the closing of the Hermosa factory in El Salvador where, in both cases, Adidas did not want to take on the responsibility for benefits like severance pay that were owed to workers from the factory closures. In addition, we want to bring to your attention that, we, as the working class, do not recognize the FLA because it has always demonstrated that it is an instrument controlled by Adidas its other affiliated brands. It is offensive for the working class that you would rather waste money putting on these types of charades than pay the workers affected by closures of factories that supply Adidas, like PT Kizone in Indonesia and Hermosa in El Salvador.
For all these reasons, we demand that Adidas:
1: immediately comply with the corporate social responsibility policies it has with the workers of PT Kizone by providing payment of their legal severance.
2: Initiate, as soon as possible, coordination with unions representing the affected workers with the end goal of delivering the respective payments in accordance with the law.
Estela Marina Ramirez