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NIKE's Labour Troubles

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NIKE's Labour Troubles

Nike publicizes itself as one of the leading industries in corporate responsibility. However, they do not comply with several human rights obligations overseas in countries like Thailand, Pakistan, China, Vietnam and Indonesia. In these countries, production facilities called sweatshops have been running for almost 35 years employing workers as young as 13 years of age. The conditions of these factories are adverse to say the least and deprive workers of the moral human rights they should be entitled to. Sweatshops are unethical, immoral and demonstrate Nike’s ignorance towards their social responsibilities abroad. Within these facilities, workers endure stressfully long days under undesirable conditions, often with no breaks and very little pay. While this is going on overseas, sponsored athletes are being paid million dollar salaries here in North America. Although Nike’s reputation has been foiled through the tabloids regarding this issue, they have been making a substantial effort to “clean up” production messes in the East.

Nike, as many other companies do, facilitates production in other countries to help grow sales in those particular regions. The main difference between Nike and some of the other companies is that other companies do not support the exploitation of labourers or human rights. Not to suggest that Nike promotes labour exploitation, but they are less strict about these rules than other companies in foreign markets. Impacts on health and safety are a major factor for employees in sweatshops. However, physical and sexual abuse is another serious concern of many of the sweatshop workers. Most of the sweatshops run by Nike contractors are factories located in relatively small spaces to save on real estate costs. They are often soiled with dirt and kept unheated to save on expenses. Broken glass and dangerous equipment is left on the floors causing potential dangers to any people scattered within the factory. Employees are subject to harassment and violent punishments if work is not being completed as thoroughly and efficiently as the contractors would like. Workers slave under unfavourable conditions for up to 14-hour days often with no breaks. These employees are paid less than $100 US and work on average over 250 hours per month. "Substandard wages keep factory workers in poverty and force them to work excessi...

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... strongly suggest that awareness of sweatshop abuses is turning consumers away from Nike.” (International Nike Mobilization - www.haleokala.com).

Nike has been under a great deal of pressure to correct the misdoings that have been done regarding production facilities in the East. As Nike is responsible for these plants, their reputation has been tainted with increasing public debate about ethical matters. While Nike still promotes itself as one of the industry leaders in corporate social responsibility, workers in Asia are still forced to work excessively long hours in substandard environments and are not paid enough to meet the basic needs for themselves or their families. They are faced to a life of poverty and are unfortunate subjects to harassment and violent threats if they make any attempt to form unions or tell journalists about labour abuses in their factories. Phil Knight’s speech regarding Nike’s steps to improving human rights in Asian countries was a step in the right direction for Nike, but it would have been much more effective had Nike fully followed through with these initiatives.

Works Cited

Campaign For Labour Rights “International Nike Mobilization”.
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