1. In Malaysia, we helped 20,000 workers get back about $50M USD. (Updated 24/5/2011 by CPVW: The number of 20 thousand workers was provided by Nike, as reported in the Oregon Live online newspaper’s news item of 02 August 2010, the contents of which are provided below. However, on 12th May 2011, in an email to a colleague of ours, Nike significantly revised this number by saying that there were only “approximately 8,5000” workers in its Malaysian contract factories, and that Nike did not know how many of them were impacted by our advocacy in this case)
2. In Malaysia, we have encouraged some Vietnamese workers to join Malaysian unions.
3. In Vietnam, we exposed on national radio and consumer magazines in 10 European countries, the sacking of strike leaders by Ching Luh, a Nike factory.
In Vietnam, we assist labor activists. In late October 2010, 3 of them were sentenced to up to 9 years for helping organise a strike.
IN MALAYSIA, we helped 20,000 workers improve their conditions: They get back about $2,000 each, avoid annual costs of hundreds of dollars, get improved company accommodation, and get back their passports. See video and images below.
As a result, Nike ordered the return of some $50M to their 20,000 foreign workers.
These workers no longer have to pay the Malaysian government’s levy on migrant workers. It is now paid by factories instead, amounting to a benefit of USD 8M/year for these workers. Thousands who had been put in cramped and filthy living spaces by the factories, also got improved accommodation. Importantly, all regained the right to take back their passports, which had been kept by factories to bind them to the factories.
The above results were achieved after CPVW alerted Australian TV Channel 7. Following an undercover investigation at a Nike contract factory near Kuala Lumpur by Channel 7 reporter Mike Duffy and Hung Nguyen (official of Textile Clothing Footwear Union of Australia), Channel 7 broadcast the “human trafficking” news item on 21st July 2008 (see Youtube). This resulted in Nike announcing the above remedies, to apply at the above factories plus all other Nike contract factories in Malaysia. CPVW has been monitoring their implementation.
- video of Australian Channel 7’s news items, with annotations by CPVW
- Nike’s Media Release announcing the remedies
- A news item on The Oregonian newspaper (in Nike’s home city)
Nike looks into workers rights breaches Contractors’ factories in Malaysia will be checked after a TV report finds squalid conditions at a Hytex plant
Saturday, August 02, 2008
RICHARD READ, The Oregonian
Nike plans to investigate all 37 of its contract factories in Malaysia after a television station found that one plant garnished wages, housed foreign workers in squalor and withheld their passports.
Australia’s Channel 7 said it found “human trafficking on a massive scale” at the T-shirt factory, where foreign workers were paid a pittance to manufacture apparel. The television report last week said workers were housed 26 to a room in filthy conditions, with hundreds of men bathing in a single trough.
On Friday, Nike managers at the company’s headquarters near Beaverton issued a statement promising immediate action to protect workers rights in Malaysia.
Channel 7 reported that migrant workers had to pay fees equivalent to a year’s wages in their home countries to agents who got them jobs. The factory then held their passports until the workers repaid the fees.
Nike said it would reimburse the fees paid by the workers, return their passports and pay airfare to workers who want to go back to their countries.
“We’re very concerned with what we found” during an investigation of the Hytex Group factory, said Erin Dobson, Nike’s director of corporate-responsibility communications. “We’ll go into every one of those factories in the coming weeks and months.”
Nike instituted monitoring procedures worldwide during the 1990s after persistent allegations of abuses in its contract factories. Critics accused Nike at the time of covering up problems and failing to monitor adequately.
Controversy over Nike’s overseas contract factories had diminished in recent years. Company spokespeople also have become less defensive, acknowledging that the supply chain has grown so huge that outside reports are sometimes necessary to uncover problems.
About 800,000 workers produce Nike products in 52 countries. They work not for Nike, but for contractors who own and operate about 700 factories worldwide.
Malaysia is unusual, Dobson said, because a labor shortage there draws workers from abroad. The Hytex factory employs workers from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Hytex, with its headquarters in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, is a large manufacturer of garments that also makes apparel in China. The exact location of the factory was not immediately clear.
Mike Duffy, a Channel 7 reporter, posed as a fashion buyer to gain access to the Hytex plant. He interviewed workers at a tin shed that housed 350 people and described an overpowering stench in the living quarters.
The humanitarian group Oxfam Australia called on Nike to correct the abuses, to ensure that workers who spoke to the reporter are protected and to continue production — and therefore employment — at the factory. The group said Nike should determine whether “forced labor and appalling working conditions” are occurring in other supplier factories in Malaysia and elsewhere.
In Nike’s statement Friday, Hannah Jones, Nike corporate-responsibility vice president, said the company had confirmed “serious breaches” of Nike’s code of conduct. “We are committed to comprehensively addressing the issues identified at Hytex and to continued follow-up to make sure changes are lasting,” Jones said.
Nike’s Dobson said company inspectors had visited the plant most recently in February and put managers on notice for some record-keeping issues. But the conditions uncovered in the TV report did not surface then, she said.
“Our initial findings are that this is unique to Malaysia and unique to this particular factory,” Dobson said. But Nike has convened all of its Malaysia suppliers, she said, and told them to implement immediately the same steps instituted at Hytex.
Nike’s Malaysian contract factories employ 20,000 workers, she said, and make only apparel, not footwear.
The Hytex plant employs 1,200 workers, she said. The Malaysian company operates other plants — Dobson did not know how many — that make Nike products there and in other countries.
Nike has contracted with the Hytex factory for 14 years and has had “issues” there before, Dobson said. She said any disciplinary actions for plant managers would be up to Hytex, not Nike.
“It’s our philosophy that you stick with the factory and help them through these issues, because that’s where you have influence,” Dobson said. “If we were just to cut the factory for these kinds of allegations, we can’t make sure that any improvements are made in these workers’ lives.”
In VIETNAM, we exposed on national radio and consumer magazines in 10 European countries, the sacking of strike leaders by Ching Luh, a Nike factory. Our colleagues in Vietnam helped a visiting Danish reporter interview sacked strike leaders and strikers. We have not been successful in persuading Nike to get the sacked strike leaders reinstated or compensated. See images below.
The countries: Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, và Finland.
The media: Danmarks Radio, Taenk, FRC Magazine, Altroconsumo, Test-Achats, Konsumen, Freizeit und Verkehr, Proteste, OCU-Compra Maestra, ..
In VIETNAM, we assist labor activists who inform workers of their rights, collect information on working conditions for WRC, and help workers organise a strike. Newsletters and leaflets have been distributed to some 20 thousand households or people. In late October 2010, three of them were sentenced to up to 9 years for helping organise a strike by all 10,000 workers at the My Phong shoe factory. See images below.
Newsletters: See below for a typical one
Leaflets: Below are images of leaflets distributed for the My Phong shoe factory strike in January-February 2010
Let’s strike for the benefits of all of us workers:
1. We request increasing the basic pay to 1.5 million dong + increase the meal allowance
2. We ask the company to pay all worker entitlements (health insurance, meals, ..
3. Pay in full our entitlements ..
4. Explain to workers the deductions made by the company
5. Reinstate sacked strikers ..
6. The union must be elected by us, their pay to come from our union fees, our union fees must be administered by it
7. Respect us, do not abuse us
Strike: see Youtube image below
Imprisonment: The 3 labor activists below have been sentenced to 7, 9, and 7 years.
The charge: “Disrupting public security”
Their actions cited to support the charge: Helped organise the My Phong strike; Distributed reactionary leaflets; Worked together in a coordinated manner; Were in touch with and received assistance from the reactionary group Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers.