War on Want kick back against Adidas

Article published: Friday, August 3rd 2012

Anti-poverty campaigners War on Want are taking action this Saturday against Adidas, a top Olympics sponsor accused of exploiting sweatshop labour.

The hourly wage for many garment workers in the developing world, according to War on Want

Activists will demonstrate outside the brand’s Market Street store and distribute 34p price tags representing the hourly pay of a garment worker as part of national day of action this Saturday.

Adidas is the official sportswear partner of the London 2012 Olympics but has been criticised by campaigners who identified serious ill-treatment of workers who make the company’s sportswear in a recent War on Want report, Race to the Bottom.

In an open letter to Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer, the campaign called on the company to ensure their workers are paid a living wage, prevent its suppliers from abusing their workforces and allow trade unions to organise without intimidation.

While the report acknowledged that anti-sweatshop campaigns throughout the 1990s forced companies to adopt voluntary codes of conduct for their suppliers, it warned that “in practice these voluntary codes have done little to change the situation in the factories themselves.

“The result has been that companies can deflect criticism and defend their brand image, with little effort put into practical implementation.”

In response to the report an Adidas spokesperson said, “We regularly monitor our suppliers and since 2006 we have retained the services of a women’s NGO in Bangladesh to interview workers and independently report on their concerns and issues. We also operate a hotline to capture worker complaints.

“We are deeply concerned by the allegations which have been made in the Race to the Bottom report and we have mobilised a team of labour specialists to investigate these claims.”

A War on Want campaign statement said, “Workers making Adidas clothes around the world are paid as little as 34p an hour, have little or no job security and face harassment or dismissal if they try and organise to defend their rights.

“This is exploitation. It’s not ok for Adidas to treat workers like this in the UK, and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else.”

Richard Goulding

The action will take place from midday. For more details, or to see where others are planned across the country, click here and to sign the letter to CEO Herbert Hainer demanding Adidas ends worker exploitation click here

More: News, Unions and workplace


  1. Well, a mixed event- not nearly as exciting as the Oxford Street action or the projection onto a building after the 100m final, (see http://www.waronwant.org/ and http://www.waronwant.org/news/press-releases/17618-new-olympic-protest-targets-adidas, but there was a presence which did provide some work for security staff and a friendly presence from a PC called Stuart/Stewart of GMP.

    Arranged at short notice per fb it was attended by a couple of community photographers and at its peak had 4 people involved. Others confessed to having come along, seen it, and sloped off without joining in. ‘Nuff said!

    Literature and cards were distributed to people visiting the store and passing by with only one “carnivore” enthusing over outsourcing exploitation. Some alternative price tags were placed on goods in the primary target and other local sports goods shops selling “badidas” and lots are held back for occasional passing “shoppers” over the weeks to come.

    Comment by Steph. Pennells on August 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

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