Sunday, May 04, 2008



We're coming up soon to the Beijing Olympics, and the international campaigns for the labour rights of workers producing clothing and other items for these games continues. The following appeal and info is from the Clean Clothes Campaign. To join this online protest go to THIS LINK.


Around the world the people who make sportswear for big brand names in the industry - mainly women - are paid wages so low that they can't cover their basic needs. They have trouble paying for housing, food, and health care for themselves and their kids.

Why should these people be subsidising billion dollar profits and millionaire bosses at companies such as Adidas, Asics, New Balance, Nike, and Puma?

Why are sportswear companies spending millions on Olympic sponsorship deals when the workers who actually stitch their garments and glue their sports shoes are living in poverty?
For years key sportswear brands have argued that they can't raise wages singlehandedly. Play Fair 2008 believes that collectively they can - these companies control the sportswear and sports shoe markets. We think you'll agree - it's time that these companies stopped making excuses and started acting like real market leaders.
Take action now! >>

a)2007 pre-tax profits
b)Increase in profits 2004-7
a)$2.2 billion
a)$1.1 billion
a)$511 million
Yue Yuen
a)$386 million
a)$203 million
*Herbert Heiner, CEO of adidas, was paid a salary of 2.8 million euros in 2007.
*Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker earned for 2006 a salary of $1.14 million, received a bonus of $1.29 million, and received more than $2 million in restricted stock awards and other compensation.
*China: A pair of Adidas running shoes in Shenzhen can cost between US$86-171 -- almost a month's income for the worker who made them -- usually young migrant women who live 12 to a dorm room.
*India: Piece rates have remained stagnant for the last five years, despite local inflation rates last year estimated at between 6.7% and 10%. One home-based soccer ball stitcher told Play Fair: "We have no savings so we have nothing left during emergencies… Once I even rented my cooking gas cylinder to arrange some money for a health emergency suffered by my wife. The situation is similar for all of us. One of my friends even sold his blood to get some extra money to meet an emergency."
*Pakistan:The piece rate these workers receive hasn't changed in six years even though the consumer price index rose by 40% over that period.
*Cambodia:With the wages that a sportswear worker is paid in Cambodia, she can only pay for her own meals and a very small room shared with other workers if she works an enormous amount of overtime. Without working extra hours she also cannot afford clothes or medical care.
*Vietnam: With this level of income a worker cannot even cover their daily expenses. In 2007 there was a 9.5% inflation rate on basic goods.
*Bangladesh:At the time, unions estimated that a living wage was nearly triple the minimum. The current minimum wage does not even provide enough to pay for one person to have three meals a day.
Play Fair 2008 believes this practice has got to come to an end. Sportswear workers should be paid a living wage; one that allows them to live in dignity. If you agree, please send a message to the companies who are leaders in the sector. Your message will go not just to the brand name companies but also the manufacturing giant Yue Yuen, who supplies companies like adidas, Asics, New Balance and Puma, and also has a role to play in ensuring that workers are paid a living wage. So far none of these companies has committed to the principle of paying their workers a living wage.

Play Fair recognizes that more than a decade after sportswear industry companies began to address problems in the sector, some progress has been made on some issues, however there is no disputing that workers wages in real terms have not improved. Industry's approach to fixing wages has been to "leave it to the market" but it's clear that in reality this has meant no solution at all. Sure market forces are a factor, but the prices set by sportswear company buyers shape that market.

Play Fair's newly-released research report "Clearing the Hurdles: Steps to Improving Working Conditions in the Global Sportswear Industry", provides new evidence of the ongoing problem of low wages in the sportswear sector []. The report offers concrete suggestions for addressing this and other problems and provides clear targets that companies should meet if they're serious about putting an end to the scandalous conditions that their supply chain workers are forced to live and work in. If sportswear companies can set specific, measurable targets for the number of pieces worker are expected to complete each day, or for sales and other financial goals, why can't they set targets for worker rights?
Play Fair believes that those companies who lead the industry in terms of profit need to be better leaders when it comes to treating workers in their supply chains decently - therefore we are asking you to send a message to the following six companies to let them know that you agree!
You can use this form to mail the following letter directly to:
*Hannah Jones, vice president, corporate responsibility, Nikee-mail:
*Frank Henke global director, social and environmental, adidas e-mail:
*Motoi Oyama, president , ASICS e-mail:
*John Larsen, New Balance e-mail:
*Reiner Hengstmann, director of corporate social responsibility, Puma e-mail:
*Cc: Johnson Tong, Pou Chen/Yue Yuene-mail:

Dear Industry Leaders,
Can you imagine working 12-13 hours a day, seven days a week, and not even being paid the minimum wage? Can you imagine living on the same premises as where you work? Can you imagine having to sleep two to a bed and 15 in the same room? Given the level of compensation you received last year this surely isn't your reality, but it is for many of the workers in your company's supply chains.

According to a new report from Play Fair 2008, wages in the global sportswear industry are poverty wages, which is shocking given the high level of profit being enjoyed by the companies, like yours, who are major players in this sector. I find this unacceptable and urge you to take concrete action to see that workers are paid a living wage. I understand that Play Fair's report Clearing the Hurdles makes specific suggestions on how to achieve progress on the wage problem, therefore I challenge you to make a commitment to meet the targets they have set.

I realize that companies like yours might not own the factories where their goods are produced, but your purchasing practices, and particularly the prices you pay to suppliers, can play a major role in determining the wages sportswear workers earn. I understand that brands and retailers can't simply increase prices paid without some mechanism to ensure that increased margins go to worker wages. I also realize that factory owners need assurances that brands won't shift production elsewhere if labor costs go up.

Because Yue Yuen produces for so many major brands, and because it is a powerful player in the industry in its own right, their manufacturing network is a good place for the sportswear industry to begin to collaborate on seeking solutions to workers' concerns over wages and working conditions. I am copying this message to them as well.

I know change won't happen overnight, but Play Fair has outlined a number of steps that you as industry leaders can take now to work toward a goal of a genuinely better reality for the workers who earn so little but whose output created your profits.
To earn my respect you need to pay them a living wage.
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