Volume 94, Issue 87

Wednesday, March 7, 2001


USC gets ready to talk numbers

Students up the computer creek - Police looking for FIMS break-in suspects

Hitchhiking isn't that bad, says expert traveller

Nike-funded report says Nike bad, but not too bad

Social services shafted as United Way falls short of goal


His Royal Mintiness

Nike-funded report says Nike bad, but not too bad

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Indonesian labourers who make clothes and shoes for Nike are dissatisfied with their working conditions, according to a recent report released by an organization largely funded by Nike itself.

The Global Alliance for Workers and Communities, which consists of public, private and not-for-profit organizations, issued a report in late February showing that more than half the workers in nine Indonesian Nike contract factories reported their monthly salaries were too low to meet living costs, said chairman of the group's operating council, Rick Little.

Also, the report stated over 45 per cent of workers believed factory medical facilities were inadequate, and several workers said they had to collapse before supervisors would allow them a visit to the clinic. Another finding was that 30 per cent of workers reported they were verbally abused, Little said.

Bob Jeffcott, policy analyst at the Maquila Solidarity Network, a Canadian workers' rights group, said he was surprised by the degree to which the report criticized Nike's labour practices given its affiliation with the company.

"There are some things in there that are quite strong," he said. "It's a surprise, both for Nike and its critics, so good things will come out of it."

Jeffcott also said, however, that he remains skeptical of the Alliance's legitimacy as a monitoring agency since they receive funding from Nike and since they failed to address labour organization issues in their report.

"Our problem has been that throughout the existence of [the Alliance] they have been used by Nike to say Nike has been doing something about working conditions," he said, adding he has long viewed the alliance as a "public relations tool" for the corporation.

"I don't want to condemn [the report] totally, but I do want to say this organization has to decide who it is," he said.

In response to the report's findings, Nike has vowed to make things better for its Indonesian workers and issued a "remediation plan" to that end.

"The Global Alliance report raised some disturbing issues about the workplaces in Indonesia, where some Nike products are made. No worker should be subject to some of the working conditions reported in this assessment," Nike vice-president for corporate responsibility, Dusty Kidd said in a statement.

Kidd said Nike would implement harassment training, a grievance system, independent monitoring and other measures to ensure an improvement in the job satisfaction of its Indonesian workers.

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