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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 97 14:12:12 CDT
From: Campaign for Labor Rights <clr@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Europeans Confront Nike
Article: 16674

/* Written 9:32 AM Aug 21, 1997 by clr in igc:labr.announcem */
/* ---------- "Europeans Confront Nike" ---------- */
Labor Alerts/Labor News
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Clean clothes Campaign meeting with Nike European operations

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), The Netherlands, 20 August 1997

[Campaign for Labor Rights received the following report today from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) in The Netherlands. We have not edited the report in any way. Much of what follows concerns a report we posted in recent weeks about an incident at a Nike clothing contract, Youngone, in Bangladesh. When workers went to the Youngone factory to make demands to management, they were attacked by police (it is the police who rioted). Many workers were beaten, arrested or fired. Note: EPZ stands for Export Processing Zone.]

After sending letters to Nike about the Youngone case in Bangladesh, to which Nike did not respond, the CCC in the Netherlands decided to pay them a visit. Accompanied by some press, about 20 CCC activists went to Hilversum to demand that Nike takes its responsibility. We had planned to build a campsite on Nike's doorstep and brought tents, in case Nike would not talk to us. However, just before we left the office this morning, Nike called to say they 'had heard we were coming' and that Keith Peters, a PR representative, would like to talk with us. So the tents stayed in the bus and we went in.

First of all the Youngone case in Bangladesh was discussed. Nike stated that they did receive information on the case, but claimed that information was contradictory. On the one hand there was the information by the CCC and the newspaper articles. On the other hand Nike did check with Youngone, who denied many of the allegations. Youngone management said the labour unrest and police beatings and arrests took place outside the EPZ, and thus, that there was no direct relation with Youngone. About the 11-point demand of the workers Youngone said that they never saw the petition, nor knew the contents before the riots took place.

Because Nike received conflicting information, they did not respond to the letters send twice by the Clean Clothes Campaign, to Nike Europe (in Hilversum), Nike Belgium, and the Nike head office (Washington D.C.). Nike says they have 1,000 employees who, among other tasks, should monitor working conditions. There is no such representative based in Bangladesh. A Nike official, Bill Fowdy, has just visited Bangladesh and looked into the matter. CCC asks if he also talked to workers. Nike does not know, they are awaiting his report. Nike is willing to improve every possible violation of Nike's code in any factory producing for Nike. CCC reads out the list of demands posed to Nike concerning the Youngone factory labour conflict, as well as more general demands directed to Nike concerning the implementation of the Nike Code of Conduct (important points of discussion were freedom of association and collective bargaining, an independent monitoring system, a procedure to enable workers to make complaints safely........CCC will send an English version of the list of demands to Nike Europe.

A discussion about Nike's way of dealing with labour issues followed; according to CCC Nike keeps running behind the facts. Inherently to its monitoring methods Nike can only deal with conflicts case by case. The question was how Nike thinks to set up a coherent system of monitoring its own code and how Nike plans to make this process more transparent. Nike responded by saying that they try to sort out which NGOs are credible organizations and aims to improve communica- tions with these. Furthermore representatives from NGOs and the press are allowed access to the factories. As an example KP mentioned Thuyen Nguyen from Vietnam Labour Watch, who wrote a critical report about Nike's practice in Vietnam. Another example was Nike's commu- nications with the Indonesian Sportshoes Monitoring Network. A discussion followed about which NGOs are credible, objective ..... CCC mentioned that the research done by Thuyen Nguyen seemed much more reliable than that conducted by Andrew Young, on behalf of Nike. CCC expressed the feeling that Nike considers critical researchers to be uncredible and subjective.

During the meeting Nike promised to:

  • send representatives of Ernst and Young (an accounting firm) within a week to Bangladesh in order to check compliance of Youngone with the labour laws of the EPZ and Nike's code of conduct. Ernst f Young will also investigate what happened during the riots that took place on July 14th and will specifically look into the lay-offs of 97 workers after the protests.
  • Any non-compliance with the labour law or Nike's code of conduct will be corrected.
  • Nike will pressure Youngone to allow labour unions in the factory
  • Within 1 month the research will be ready
  • In relation to other complaints Nike can not say already which steps will be undertaken;
  • within the next month all people who produce Nike articles, in any factory in the world will receive a copy or summary of the Nike Code of Conduct in their respective languages.
  • In the week of September 13th there will be a second meeting between the Clean Clothes Campaign, Keith Peters, Stephen Coenjaards, Dusty Kidd (director of labour practices) and Brad Figel (director of government affairs), about the proceedings in the Youngone case; what has been undertaken to improve the situation regarding compliance with the labour laws and what has been done to free all the arrested workers, to reinstate terminated workers, free medical facilities, to keep the police out of future labour conflicts. The Clean Clothes Campaign will gather new facts about the conflict and proceedings.
  • In the same week a meeting will take place of the same Nike repre- sentatives and representatives of the working group " Fair Trade Charter for Garments and Sportswear". This group consists of the Clean Clothes Campaign, FNV, CNV (the last two mentioned are Dutch labour unions) and NOVIB (a developmental NGO). The Clean Clothes Campaign will send information about the Fair Trade Charter to Nike before the meeting.
  • Nike will inform the Clean Clothes Campaign about the findings of Bill Fowdy and Ernst f Young before the meetings in the week of September 13th.

All in all we are quite happy with these results. Of course it remains to be seen if Nike sticks to their promises, however, media interest is growing and if they don't stick to their promises we'll be back with the campsite on their doorstep.

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