Adidas supplier owed workers $3.4 million
“On behalf of the Kizone workers, we are very grateful for what you do, not just for workers in Indonesia but to fight for truth and universal justice. We know that we must tell the brands and the people who use the products manufactured by workers in Asia and Latin America to eliminate slavery on the face of this earth. Right now, it is our chance to be a tiger in that global movement. Please keep standing with us!”
Aslam Hidayat, former Kizone worker and coordinator of the PT Kizone workers coordinating committee
The 2,800 Kizone workers, many of whom were earning as little as US $0.60 per hour during their employment, were deprived of thousands of dollars in severance payments that they were entitled to under Indonesian law. The campaign to force Adidas to pay severance to these workers was headed by the workers in Indonesia and supported by labour rights activists worldwide, including the Clean Clothes Campaign in Europe.
The European campaign was launched in April 2012, with over 50,000 activists signing a petition demanding that Adidas pay up. The London Olympics were used as an opportunity to highlight the plight of these workers, and store actions were organised in many European cities, including London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Vienna. European activists also utilised social media in the campaign, dominating the “Adidas originals” Facebook page for a week by posting thousands of comments demanding action.
The involvement of the student movement in both the USA and the UK was key in pushing Adidas to pay up. University campuses in the UK and the USA held protests and passed student union motions against Adidas. Twelve US universities severed their ties with the company, claiming breach of contract resulting from the failure of Adidas to comply with the codes of conduct embedded in contracts. In the UK a concerted campaign was started against a sponsorship deal the company was due to sign with Newcastle University.
The initial response of Adidas was to continue to deny responsibility for the severance payments; instead offering “humanitarian aid” to the affected workers in the form of food vouchers and support for re-employment in other garment factories. The Kizone workers publicly rejected this offer and continued to fight for what they were legally owed. The unity and determination of these workers to continue to fight for their legal rights to be respected, in the face of severe financial circumstances, forced Adidas to finally take responsibility for their share of the severance pay.
Following a two-month speaker tour in the USA, and just weeks before a scheduled European speaker tour, Adidas finally requested negotiations with the union representing Kizone workers. An agreement was reached for immediate payment of severance, with the conditions of confidentiality, the cancellation of campaigning activity and the cessation of court cases between Adidas and universities.
In June 2013 the first payments from Adidas to Kizone workers were distributed by the union. All the initial payments have now been made, and the workers are now awaiting a judgement by the Indonesian court on the distribution of the final half million dollars, which is due to be paid from the remaining assets of PT Kizone. The campaign will continue to follow the case until this legal process is complete.
This case has seen much international attention, so much that we've dedicated an interactive timeline to it.