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Forum Post: Nike Slave Labor: Just Do It

Posted 6 years ago on Jan. 16, 2013, 5:22 a.m. EST by TrevorMnemonic (5827)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Workers at a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia say the factory paid military personnel to intimidate them into working for less than the minimum wage.

After millions of workers went on strike last year in Indonesia over low pay and cost of living increases, the government lifted wage rates.

But workers at the Nike factory in the west Java city of Sukabumi say they were made to sign a petition supporting the factory's claim to be exempt from paying the new wage.

In mobile phone footage of the factory, shown to the ABC, a man standing over workers can be heard telling them, "you all have to sign it".

The woman who took the footage does not want to be named, but says she and other workers tried to reject the pay restriction.

"We got summoned by military personnel that the company hired to interrogate us and they intimidated us," she said.

"The first thing that scared me was his high tone of voice and he banged the table.

"And also he said that inside the factory there were a lot of military intelligence officers. That scared me."

AUDIO: Listen to George Roberts' report (AM) Unions in Indonesia say at least six Nike-contracted factories have applied to be exempt from paying the increased rate.

The Trade Union Rights Centre's Surya Tjandra says there is a loophole to get an exemption.

"You have to provide financial conditions of the company in the last two years which show some not profit, and then you have to accept some consent from the workers directly, which is not that easy because for the workers, the new wages is actually better and fairer," he said.

If the factory gets an exemption, the employees will get paid $3.70 a day instead of $4.

Activists say that after rent and transport to work, it is only enough to afford one meal.

One activist, Jim Keady, runs an American non-governmental organisation called Educating for Justice.

"I would say it is a clear violation of Nike's code of conduct and in a more general sense, the minimum wage is a poverty wage alone," he said.

"To pay less than the minimum wage I just think absolutely runs counter to Nike's public claims that they care about the welfare of their workers and they want to see them have decent lives."

Nike investigating

In a statement, a spokesman for Nike said the company is investigating.

"Nike expects contract factory workers to be paid at least the minimum wage required by country law and provide legally mandated benefits, including holidays and leave, and statutory severance when employment ends," the statement said.

The ABC asked Nike headquarters if the company is aware of the allegations about the use of military personnel and the intimidation of workers into accepting a lower than minimum wage.

After a pause, the spokesman said he would not get into details but that the company was investigating.

Mr Keady says the situation would be easy to fix.

"You really have to break it down in human terms," he said.

"Somebody like Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. The guy is worth $10.3 billion. How much more do you need? If you made a billion less you could lift millions of people out of poverty.

"I'm not asking for charity - I don't want him to just give his money away. I'm talking about justice.

"Pay the people what they deserve. They've earned it. Give them a decent wage."

He says Nike made $2.2 billion in profits last year and it would cost $1 extra per pair of shoes to pay the minimum wage.




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[-] 3 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Actually, boycott the athletes with contracts with Nike.

Nike ended it's contract with Lance Amstrong because he was a bad boy.

Boycott the athletes because Nike engages in slave labor.

[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

That is a great idea. What if Jordan had put his name on shoes made in America with well paid labor instead of Nike? These advertisers and brand stampers play a role of guilt. As do these men that Nomdeguerre pointed out - Philip H. Knight, Chairman of the Board; Mark Parker, President & CEO; Charlie Denson, Nike Brand President.

Market bulls got pockets full to advertise some hip disguise. View the world from American eyes. The poor adore keep fiendin' for more. The thin line between entertainment and war. They fix the need, develop the taste. Buy their products or get laid to waste. Coca-Cola is back in the veins of Saigon and Rambo too, he got a dope pair of Nikes on. And Godzilla pure muthafuckin filler to keep ya eyes off the real killer. - Rage Against the Machine.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33683) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Good One - support personal ethics People.

Ask athletes how they feel about taking money to endorse companies that engage in slavery/sweatshops.

[-] 3 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

It's slave labor. Corrupt human nature doesn't change, the evil 1% CEOs couldn't wait to get back to exploiting human beings to the max.

When I was a child I thought that slave/near slave labor, child labor, crushing hours and conditions were things of the past never to return. Oh well.

Identify the maldoers, make it personal: Philip H. Knight, Chairman of the Board; Mark Parker, President & CEO; Charlie Denson, Nike Brand President. http://nikeinc.com/pages/executives

[-] 3 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

thanks for naming the names!

Philip H. Knight, Chairman of the Board; Mark Parker, President & CEO; Charlie Denson, Nike Brand President.

Girlfriday brought up an excellent point about the celebrities that push their products.

[-] 1 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

If I knew their wives' names I would have named them too (or husbands in other situations). They should be shamed publicly.

It's not like they don't have a choice. Businesses are not charities, but still . . . For example, Steve Jobs could have addressed the country and the legislatures saying 'competition would force him to take jobs overseas, the government needs to change the laws to allow businesses to keep American workers and stay competitive (i.e., protective tariffs)' . Millions would have followed him. He was considered a hero and guru (for reasons opaque to me). Instead his raw bottom line and adding to his billions was more important to him and his wife, Laurene Powell, than maintaining the U.S. as a middle class country. He even said, "those jobs won't be coming back". Of course, the jobs will be coming back (that's OWS's job) but Steve Jobs won't be.

[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

"Those jobs are never coming back" - Steve Jobs


[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Nike has a history of exploitation. Boycott the hell out of them. Again.

People raised hell about 20 years and saw some changes. Apparently, those changes are not enough.

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (22837) 6 years ago

Wow. Thanks for outing this. There is a connection between the military and corporations that cannot be denied. Solidarity with workers everywhere! Fair wages for all people!

[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

Protest wall street... and they send in the militarized police. Definite connection. We saw it here and have many times. Blair Mountain was crazy to read about.

[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

2.2 billion in profits and they pay workers 3.70 a day at these factories. Not only did they shut down American jobs through outsourcing, but Nike continually takes it the next step and exploits and abuses workers overseas.