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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
10 juni 2006

Oxfam finds fault with sportswear industry

Two years ago, during the European Championship, the Play Fair Alliance - including Oxfam, the Clean Clothes Campaign and global unions - challenged the sportswear industry to improve labour conditions. Adrie Papma, campaign director of Oxfam Novib in the Netherlands: "But sadly little has changed. The rights of workers to form unions is crucial to achieving the big improvements needed on the factory floor, but many brands are still not willing to play ball."
According to Oxfam Novib, none of the twelve surveyed top brands - Nike, Adidas, Puma, Asics, Umbro, Mizuno, New Balance, Lotto, Kappa, Pentland, Reebok and FILA - pass the test of fully respecting or defending the labour rights of their workers in the supply chain. Definitely bottom of the league is FILA, that has failed to address serious abuses in an Indonesian factory, like refusal of union rights and sexual intimidation. When confronted with these abuses in 2004, FILA promised to improve the situation. But early 2005 the factory suddenly closed down, leaving thousands of workers jobless. FILA never took any responsibility for the workers. Adrie Papma: "Unless workers are free to bargain collectively for better pay and conditions, companies like FILA will continue to get away with this kind of outrageous behaviour. Professional footballers are represented by players' associations, sportswear workers should be allowed to form unions."
The report points at Reebok as the leader of the league, having done the most to uphold labour rights in Asia. Other big brands such as Nike, Adidas and Asics have made some improvements. However, an Adidas supplier in Indonesia sacked thirty union workers who took part in a legal strike for more pay (they earn a mere sixty eurocents an hour). Adrie Papma: "The sacking of these workers should be a very worrying signal to sports brands, since it is not acceptable to discriminate against union workers. In the past Adidas has shown leadership within the industry and the company should continue to do so by ensuring the factory reinstates these workers. Both consumers and workers can expect from global brands not to abuse their labour force."
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