London 2012: Adidas must act to end worker exploitation

With under two months to go until London 2012, a new campaign calls on the Olympic Games’s official sportswear partner Adidas to end worker exploitation.

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Murray Worthy is a campaigns officer at War on Want

Today Adidas comes under pressure to tackle the sweatshop conditions in its supplier factories as War on Want launches a new campaign over the exploitation of its workers.

John-Terry-Frank-Lampard-AdidasThe campaign demands the official sportswear partner of London 2012 and Team GB takes responsibility for the abuse of workers’ rights in its supply chains, and has launched a video highlighting the reality of life for workers making Adidas goods.

With only 50 days left before the London Olympics, more than a million tickets have already been sold and over four billion people are expected to watch the Games on television.

But, in the run up to and during what its promoters call the greatest show on earth, Indonesian workers making goods for Adidas will earn as little as 34p an hour – far less than a living wage.

Some Indonesian factories do not even pay the legal minimum wage. Employees face verbal abuse, have shoes thrown at them and are slapped in the face. Their managers tell them to lie about their conditions during Adidas factory audits.

These conditions are not unique. In China researchers for the Playfair 2012 campaign found people regularly working from 8am to 11pm. In Sri Lanka, researchers found people being forced to work overtime in order to meet production targets.

In the Philippines, more than half the workers interviewed said that in order to cover their basic needs they are forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for high interest loans. At all of the factories Playfair 2012 researchers visited, workers reported that they were not paid a living wage that covered their basic needs.

This is exploitation. It would never be acceptable for Adidas to treat workers like this here, and it should not be okay simply because they source from factories in poorer countries. Respect for workers’ rights and people’s basic dignity must be universal.

Watch the campaign video:

Adidas has spent £100 million on the Olympics, securing its place as London 2012’s only official sportswear partner. In return for its financial commitment, Adidas hopes to achieve over £100 million in sales from its Olympic clothing lines alone.

And, more important, the company hopes to use the boost to its brand from the Olympics to overtake Nike as the UK’s sportswear market leader – increasing sales across all of its product lines. Yet unless public pressure is brought to bear, little is set to change for the 775,000 workers making its products in 1,200 factories across 65 countries.


See also:

London 2012: The Rio Tinto saga continues 30 Apr 2012

London 2012: Rio Tinto and the ethics of corporate sponsorship 23 Apr 2012

Stay poor with Holiday Inn at the Olympic and Paralympic Games 24 Feb 2012

There should be no prizes for exploiting children at the Olympics 23 Feb 2012

Olympian opacity: Why the secrets if LOCOG have nothing to hide? 17 Feb 2012


Adidas can end the appalling exploitation of workers in its supply chains. It must require its suppliers to pay a living wage, covering basic essentials like housing, food, healthcare and education.

It must ensure that all its supplier factories provide decent working conditions for all their workers and guarantee a positive environment for trade union organisation throughout its supply chains, so that workers are free to organise to secure their rights, without fear of repression or harassment.

That would be an Olympic legacy worth celebrating.

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17 Responses to “London 2012: Adidas must act to end worker exploitation”

  1. Emma

    London Olympics sponsor Adidas to be targeted by sweatshop protesters #WarOnWant #BoycottOlympics

  2. Snapdragon

    London Olympics sponsor Adidas to be targeted by sweatshop protesters #WarOnWant #BoycottOlympics

  3. Cal Bryant

    London Olympics sponsor Adidas to be targeted by sweatshop protesters #WarOnWant #BoycottOlympics

  4. Mike Smart

    RT @leftfootfwd: London 2012: Adidas must act to end worker exploitation

  5. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: London 2012: Adidas must act to end worker exploitation

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