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Adidas exploitation shamed: ‘Not OK anywhere’

Olympic protest against Adidas exploitation

Murray Worthy, sweatshops campaigner at War on Want said “Hainer should be ashamed of his flippant comments about the way Adidas is profiting from the exploitation of workers around the world"

August 8, 2012 10:10 by



Athletes, sponsors, PR professionals, viewers and patriots have observed the hard way, that despite the London Olympics 2012 being one of the most watched and celebrated events of all time, its preparations are not immune to the exploitation of humans.

The event symbolises importance to countless viewers around the world but, to the barely contained glee of corporate giants, it also carries immense vitality to its sponsors who rely on its popular edge and demand to add millions towards their revenue streams. Adidas has reportedly already sold over £100 million in Olympic clothing but to their despair, they have also been faced with weeks of continuous accusations and investigations that have attacked the company’s ‘unacceptable’ treatment of its factory workers, exploitation of human labour and the abuse of nearly 775,000 workers in 1,200 Adidas-contracted factories across 65 countries.

Paying wages below the poverty line, reportedly as low as $15 per week for workers in Cambodia, lack of proper sanitation in the work environment, working hours miles past the legal quota and inadequate treatment have all been on the list of investigated allegations. The list that simultaneously boils the blood of social activists and campaigners during the London based event.

Countless accusations have been tossed at the treatment of their factory workers in several sites including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia, only to be bluntly tossed back and refuted. The company’s CEO, Herbert Hainer, while telling London-based journalists how vital this event is for Adidas and its sales; has been numerously accused of paying wages as low as 34 pence an hour.

Adidas, however, has yet to provide any evidence that suggests otherwise. In fact, during an interview with The Independent, Hainer bluntly said that their job is to make a profit and not charity. He also went on to refute all allegations of poverty-line wages and poor treatment of Adidas workers.

“We are not in the welfare business. Our job is to make a profit.”

Olympic protest against Adidas exploitation

While interviews with journalists have proven to be an environment fit for evasion for the German CEO; campaigners from the anti-poverty charity War on Want decided to take a more assertive and ‘enlightening’ approach. How assertive? A 65 feet high image was projected on a building that overlooks the Olympic Park; displaying Adidas’s famous three-stripe logo and proclaiming “exploitation – not OK here, not OK anywhere”.

Murray Worthy, War on Want’s sweatshops campaigner, said: “Adidas are making millions, yet the workers who produce their clothes have to skip meals just to get by. This is exploitation. It wouldn’t be OK for Adidas to do this in the UK and it shouldn’t be OK anywhere else. Adidas must ensure that workers are paid enough to live.”

Yes Murray, Adidas are making millions in profit and despite researchers having inspected 5 different factory locations only to conclude that the workers are indeed in inadequate environment and receiving poverty-line wages; the CEO has said it all, with a lack of social conscience if I may add, that they are not in the business of  welfare. They are in the business of filling the register and they’re not the only ones. Cha-Ching!

*Contribution from Gulf Marketing Review

Expolitation. Not ok here. Not ok anywhere



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