How Nike treats its Vietnamese workers

Submitted by Anon on 28 February, 2002 - 11:14

28 cents an hour, 78 hours a week.

Nike owners have become very rich from the exploitation of workers - Chief Exec, Phil Knight, has a personal fortune of almost $4 billion.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the average Nike worker earns $47 a month. Sewers making Nike clothes in factories in Dhaker, Bangladesh, earn between 11 and 20 cents an hour for a 78 hour week; workers are prevented for talking to each other and are often abused by supervisors.
Nike makes massive profits on its shoes and clothes. Christian Aid estimated (1995) that the labour costs involved in making one pair of Nike trainers is only $3, yet they may sell for $100 in the US.

In the 1980s, Nike produced 90% of its shoes in Taiwan and Korea. Nike has left these countries due to increases in the local minimum wage. Nike now makes most its shoes and clothes in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan.

This is what life is like for Vietnam Nike workers:

"You have to meet the quota before you can go home.

"She hit all 15 team leaders in turn from the first one to the fifteenth...

"The physical pain didn't last long, but the pain I feel in my heart will never disappear."

These statements were made by Thuy and Lap, woman workers at Nike plant in Vietnam, and reported on American CBS TV in October 1996.

In 1999, Thuy & Lap were fired for talking to reporters. Thuy is now working in another factory in Dong Nai. Lap is still unemployed. We are now in the year 2002. Nike's factory wages are still the lowest among foreign-owned factories in Vietnam.

CBS news reported that workers at Vietnam Nike shoe manufacturing plants make on 20 cents an hour, or $1.60 per day. The workers told Vietnam Labor Watch that the cost of three meals per day is about $2. Many of them skipped meals.

During the first three months of employment, all workers received $37 per month which is below the minimum wage of $45 per month in Vietnam.

Workers are subject to physical abuse. In 1996 CBS also found that 45 women were forced by their supervisors to kneel down with their hands up in the air for 25 minutes.

On 26 November 1996 100 workers at the Pouchen factory, a Nike site in Dong Nai, were forced to stand in the sun for half an hour for spilling a tray of fruit. One employee, Nguyen Minh Tri, walked out after 18 minutes, and was then formally fired.

On 8 March 1997, 56 women at the Nike factory, Pouchen were forced to run around the factory grounds. 12 of them fainted and were taken to the hospital by their friends. This was particularly painful to the Vietnamese because it occurred on International Women's Day, an important holiday when Vietnam honours women.

Many women workers are also subject to sexual harassment. CBS reported that a Nike plant supervisor fled Vietnam after he was accused of sexually molesting several women workers.

Women workers have complained to Vietnam Labor Watch about frequent sexual harassment from foreign supervisors. Even in broad daylight, in front of other workers.

And workers face terrible working conditions. Women workers told CBS News that they are forced to work overtime to meet a daily quota which is set unrealisticly high. Most workers at VN Nike plants are forced to work 600+ hours of overtime per year. If they do not accept the forced overtime, they will get a warning and after three warnings they will get fired.

Workers cannot go to the toilet more than once per 8-hour shift and they cannot drink water more than twice per shift.

It is a common occurrence for workers to faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition during their shifts.

No Sweat, the British anti-sweatshop campaign exists to help stamp out sweatshop labour.

No Sweat believes that every worker, everywhere in the world, deserves the right to a living wage, respect at work and the right to join a free trade union.

We combine solidarity work with workers in the Third World with work to organise unions in sweatshops in Britain. We unite students, youth, trade unionists and anti-capitalists.

Contact us!

No Sweat PO Box 36707 London SW9 8YA

07907 431 959

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