32 year old Hamdani with his two year old son Restu. Hamdani made Adidas sports shoes until 2005 when he was unfairly dismissed for participating in a strike for better wages. Photo: Tim Herbert/OxfamAUS Photo: Tim Herbert/OxfamAUS

Hamdani’s story

Hamdani, 33, made adidas sports shoes until he was unfairly dismissed for participating in a strike for better wages. He has now been without work for 5 years and is struggling to provide for his 2 year old son.  This is his story.

My name is Hamdani. I was born in Tangerang (an industrial district near Jakarta) on the 28 December 1977. I am the eldest of 5 children. Our parents made a living peddling fruit along the neighbourhood streets. When I finished my secondary education I started applying for work in factories. First I worked in a mosquito repellent factory, then producing triplex. In 2000 I secured work at an adidas supplier called Panarub.

My first few years passed smoothly. But then in 2003 my experience changed. I began to encounter discrimination and found myself constantly transferred from one part of the factory to another. This treatment began as soon as I became more active in the union.  As time went on, the discrimination got worse. Then in 2005 I participated in a strike to ask for better working conditions and wages. Soon afterwards, I lost my job.

Along with the other dismissed workers, we took this case to the Indonesian human rights body, who ruled that our rights had been violated. They even produced a letter demanding that we be reinstated by the adidas supplier. But this never occurred. 

Now I stay at home and look after my two year old son Restu. My wife works six days a week and often doesn’t return till late at night. We struggle to get by on one wage, but after applying to adidas supplier Ching Luh three times, I still haven’t heard anything. I worked for five years producing adidas shoes, but I still can’t get work at another supplier.

This causes me to believe there is a black list for those of us who were previously active in the Panarub union. Every time we have applied it has been incredibly difficult – I think there is pressure from within to keep us out.

32 year old Hamdani with his two year old son Restu. Hamdani made Adidas sports shoes until 2005 when he was unfairly dismissed for participating in a strike for better wages. Photo: Tim Herbert/OxfamAUS

32 year old Hamdani with his two year old son Restu. Hamdani made Adidas sports shoes until 2005 when he was unfairly dismissed for participating in a strike for better wages. Photo: Tim Herbert/OxfamAUS

Struggling to get by

We have enough to put food in our mouths. But then having enough to fill our stomachs is different. We get by on my wife’s small salary. Whether we like it or not—this has to be enough.

My wife works six days a week at another factory.  Generally she starts at 8.30am and returns 7.30pm, although last week she didn’t get home each night until 10pm.

Thank goodness she has never fallen ill. I think she is often exhausted, but then she knows she’s the sole breadwinner, and she’s also worried that if she ever takes a day off she might lose her job.  So I think she has felt sick before, but not to the point where she wouldn’t go to work- she forces herself a bit.

Sometimes I get really stressed, thinking about my wife… I’d really love to invite her somewhere to have some enjoyment in her life… but I can’t really do that.

I think she is often exhausted, but then she knows she’s the sole breadwinner, and she’s also worried that if she ever takes a day off she might lose her job.

My message for adidas

Workers should be valued. Don’t only think about production when our human rights are being violated.

Unions need to be strengthened, not prevented from organising. We need unions so that we know our rights and can’t be exploited by our employers.

There are too many workers who have slaved for years without ever receiving the wages and conditions that are rightfully theirs.

My message to adidas consumers

I always hope that adidas consumers will think more about the issues faced by the people who make the shoes that they wear.  Don’t just be influenced by the sports shoes advertisements that emphasise luxury, wealth, strength and quality. Instead try to look behind the scenes at the workers who make those shoes and see the human face of production.

Ask adidas to value its workers and respect their rights.  Ask adidas to keep its promise to Hamdani.

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