Labor rights and sportswear production in Asia (Executive summary)

Published: 24 May 2006

As global sports brands crank up their advertising for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, sportswear workers in Asia are struggling to earn a living. Oxfam International’s report "Offside! Labor Rights and Sportswear Production in Asia" examines how sports brands are tackling the problem of sweatshops in their industry with a particular focus on workers’ freedom to form and join trade unions.

The report features nine case studies that document how sports brands have responded to evidence of labor rights abuses in particular factories. In some cases they have responded well and addressed the problems while in others labor abuses have continued. Ultimately, a bigger challenge remains to persuade sports brands to make sure human rights are respected right across their supply chain. The report assesses how much effort sports brands have made to improve labor rights for all workers who make their products.

This report considers 12 international sports brands — adidas, ASICS, FILA, Kappa, Lotto, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Speedo and Umbro — and examines the steps they take to ensure their suppliers in Asia allow workers to organize trade unions and bargain collectively for better wages and conditions. It concludes that all sportswear companies need to take a more serious approach to workers’ right to freedom of association.