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Photo: Martin Wurt/OxfamAUS


So what’s the problem with adidas?

Thousands of workers endure poverty wages and harsh sweatshop-like conditions to make adidas their coveted sports shoes.

Adidas also don’t have a good track record in relation to upholding trade union rights.

We have been in constant correspondence with adidas since 2006 asking that they uphold the rights of their workers.

So what’s the solution?

Better wages

Workers require a living wage, which is one that allows them to meet the basic needs of a family after working a full-time working week without overtime. Adidas won’t commit to a living wage for its workers.

But it will commit to paying already high earning sport stars millions of dollars to endorse their products.

The right to form trade unions

Adidas gets much of its gear made in countries and free trade zones where it is illegal or extremely difficult for workers to organise into unions. Without this united structure it is near impossible for individual workers to ask for improved conditions without fear of retribution.

Adidas has taken a positive step by signing onto the new Freedom of Association Protocol in Indonesia. Adidas was an active participant in negotiations with Indonesian unions and supplier factories to develop the Freedom of Association Protocol. The Protocol, which Adidas signed onto in June 2011, is already having positive impacts in a number of supplier factories. But Adidas must work hard to ensure that the Protocol is implemented at the factory level throughout its supply chain.

A confidential complaints structure

When workers suffer sexual harassment, intimidation, violence or other human rights violations they need to be able to access a confidential complaints mechanism, and they need those complaints to be taken seriously and handled sensitively. In response to public pressure, adidas has made some effort to establish complaint mechanisms in some factories, but most adidas workers don’t have access to a complaint mechanism which they have reason to trust.

Ban short-term contracts

Adidas moves its production where it likes when it likes and does not ban or discourage short-term contracts for its workers. So when it leaves an area those workers on short-term contracts are left with nothing.

Incentives for respecting workers’ rights

Adidas should offer meaningful incentives to factories that respect workers’ rights, particularly workers’ right to organise trade unions. Without genuine incentives human rights abuses will continue.

Learn more

Adidas and its work practices were also reviewed in our comprehensive Offside! report (PDF, 4MB).