Oxfam red cards Adidas over human rights

Published: 7 July 2006

Sportswear giant Adidas should stop back-pedalling, support human rights and deliver on its promise to insist on the reinstatement of dismissed union leaders at a factory that manufactures its football boots promoted by World Cup stars David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, says international agency Oxfam.

"Adidas is now the top sportswear sponsor at the World Cup with two teams, Germany and France, getting to the semi-finals," said Kelly Dent of Oxfam International. "But off the field, the company deserves a red card for failing to support the human rights of workers."

In October 2005, 33 trade union leaders at the Panarub factory in Indonesia were sacked after calling for their pay to be raised in line with inflation during a one-day strike. The factory makes Adidas- Predator and +F50.6 TUNIT football boots.

In late May 2006, the Indonesian Human Rights Commission called the dismissals illegal and that the workers’ human rights had been violated. Adidas indicated in a June 15 letter to Oxfam that it fully supported the Commission’s findings and would insist that its supplier reinstate the dismissed union leaders.

Last week however Adidas reneged and now wants to clarify whether the Commission’s findings are legally binding. Adidas also suggests that the workers may need to appeal against their dismissal to the Indonesian Supreme Court.

"We are standing up for what we believe is right, we refuse to give up hope and with support from Oxfam we are campaigning to get our jobs back," said Muhammad Ali, dismissed union leader.

"Adidas’ code of conduct is meant to ensure its suppliers respect human rights," said Ms Dent. "But instead of upholding its own code, Adidas is leaving the union leaders to spend months, possibly years fighting the case through the Supreme Court. If Adidas’ code of conduct means anything at all then the company should immediately insist its supplier reinstates these union leaders."

Meanwhile there are fears that more workers at the Panarub factory could lose their jobs after Adidas scaled back its orders from the factory claiming it is failing to meet delivery and quality expectations. Oxfam International is concerned that the buying practices of giant sportswear companies provides no incentive for factories to comply with even the most basic of labour rights standards.

In May 2006, Oxfam International released its report Offside! Labor Rights and Sportswear Production in Asia. The report found that many of the mostly women workers who make goods for global sports brands have been sacked, threatened with violence or dismissed when they have organised unions to lobby for better pay.

Contact Information

For more information or to arrange an interview with Kelly Dent, Oxfam International, please contact:
Ian Woolverton +61 (0) 409 181 454