Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Adidas targeted by sweatshop protest

July 2012

The NGO War on Want has begun a campaign on the eve of the London Olympics to persuade Adidas, one of the most prominent sportswear brands in athletics, to end sweatshop conditions at its Asian suppliers’ factories.

The charity has catalogued a range of abuses against workers, including poverty wages, excessive overtime, and verbal and physical abuse.

The campaign involves protests at Adidas stores around the UK and a hard-hitting video available online.

Adidas denies the accusations, emphasising that it takes working conditions seriously and that previous War on Want reports on its suppliers have contained inaccuracies. However, it says the NGO has failed to accept invitations to consider or discuss inaccuracies.

Last month, War on Want combined with the charities UK Feminista, People & Planet and Labour Behind the Label to demonstrate at the company’s flagship London store. Campaigners carried Badidas signs and banners proclaiming: “Stop Cheating Women Workers.”

In addition to poor working conditions, the NGO claims suppliers’ staff are told to lie about their treatment during factory audits, and that Adidas has refused to accept responsibility for $1.8m (£1.15m, €1.43m) in severance pay due to 3,000 Indonesian workers who lost their jobs last year when a supplier factory closed. War on Want says the workers are entitled to payments under Indonesian law.

The NGO’s campaigner Murray Worthy said: “Around the world thousands of people making Adidas goods face appalling conditions, poverty wages and excessive working hours, with little dignity or respect. This is exploitation. Adidas must take responsibility for the workers who make their clothes.”

Adidas has said it will investigate the allegations immediately but insists it found no evidence to support previous claims. The company emphasises that it has been in “open and constructive dialogue with the Play Fair Campaign” regarding its supply chain management for ten years.

The company said in a statement: “Adidas is fully committed to protecting worker rights and to ensuring fair and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain.”

Adidas | Asia | Human rights

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