Adidas criticised for 'sweatshop' Olympic merchandise

By staff writers
July 16, 2012

As controversy over G4S continues, another key company linked to the Olympics, the sportswear brand Adidas, has attempted to rebut criticism after staff at a flagship store blocked protesters who attempted target 'sweatshop' Games merchandise.

In the first nationwide direct action against a 2012 Olympics sponsor, campaigners attached '34p' tags to Adidas products at stores around Britain to indicate the minimal hourly wage rate paid to the Indonesian workers who make Adidas goods.

At the flagship Adidas store in London’s Oxford Street, activists tagged some products, but were prevented by staff from attaching tags to the company's Olympics range.

The UK-wide protests took place as the campaign group Labour Behind the Label claimed that the basic pay of Indonesian Adidas workers who make official Olympic merchandise is only £10 a week.

The group says Adidas are in breach of an agreement with LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) which says suppliers must pay their workers a sustainable living wage.

Adidas has posted a blog on its website by William Anderson, head of social and environmental affairs for the Asia Pacific region, in which he seeks to justify the 34p an hour pay rate, despite the company's record £529 million net profit in 2011.

The blog, which revealed that workers supplying Adidas could in some instances be paid less than 34p an hour, has drawn public criticism.

Murray Worthy, who campaigns on sweatshops for the charity War on Want, said: “Adidas is clearly now on the rack through growing pressure over sweatshops. Thousands of our tags are being put on its products across the country. It is high time Adidas recognised exploitation is not OK and ensured a living wage for its factory workers.”

The charity has called on Adidas to tackle the abuse of workers’ rights in its supplier factories, as well as demanding a living wage, decent conditions and trade union rights for the workers concerned.

War on Want has also pointed out that Adidas estimates sales of its Olympic products to be worth £100 million, with four billion people expected to watch the global sports event on television.


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