New Mess for Nike: Workers Claim Abuse

Contractors hired to make its Converse shoes reportedly cruel to workers
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2011 11:10 AM CDT
Thousands of Indonesian factory workers demonstrate outside Nike Inc.'s Indonesian headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – It’s been years since Nike pledged to distance itself from sweatshop labor practices, and it has succeeded … sort of. Indonesian contractors tasked with making high-tops for Nike's Converse subsidiary are reportedly abusing their employees, the AP finds. In dozens of interviews with workers, who are paid about 50 cents an hour, AP heard tales of supervisors throwing shoes at workers, kicking and striking them, and hurling insults like "dog" and "pig." One supervisor allegedly forced six women who didn't hit their quota to stand in the blazing sun for two hours.

"We're powerless," says one worker. "Our only choice is to stay and suffer, or speak out and be fired." Another called the abuse, "Part of our daily bread." An internal Nike report shows that about two-thirds of the 168 factories that churn out Converse products don't meet the standards it sets for contract manufacturers, but a rep says the abuse is "serious and egregious" at only two of them. Nike is pushing away the blame, claiming that pre-existing licenses related to Converse bar it from inspecting factories or instituting its code of conduct.

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