Students, workers and anti-sweatshop activists have scored a major victory against Adidas, who have agreed to pay $1.8 million in legally owed severance pay to 2,800 former workers at PT Kizone factory in Indonesia, after two years of campaigning.
PT Kizone factory closed after its owner fled in 2011, leaving workers, who had been earning as little as 34p an hour, unemployed. Adidas, whose profits reached $881 million in 2012, had until now refused to pay redundancy money. Despite being the biggest buyer from the factory, it continued to deny responsibility, even as other buyers contributed to a fund to compensate workers.
An international ‘badidas’ campaign, spearheaded in the UK by People & Planet, War on Want and Labour Behind the Label, produced a 50,000 signature petition, a social media storm, and protests outside stores nationally and internationally. In the USA, several universities have cut corporate ties with Adidas over the issue after pressure from students. Students from UEA have twice participated in protests in London outside Adidas and Footlocker stores.
The victory follows on from previous campaign success in 2008, when the threat of student boycotts in US and Europe led Fruit of the Loom to re-hire, on improved pay, 1,800 garment workers in Honduras. The news comes as sweatshops return to the public agenda, with the recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, killing nearly 400 people, and the role of western companies under increased scrutiny for allegedly incentivising cost-cutting and weak regulations.
The issue was first brought to attention by a report from the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labour organisation that monitors supply chains for workers rights abuses. UEA People & Planet, who last year organised the country’s largest naked protest against sweatshop conditions, are currently campaigning for UEA to sign up to the WRC.