Workers at two Adidas and Nike supplier factories in China are striking over pay and benefits.
According to the New York-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) China Labor Watch around 30,000 workers have downed tools.
The Guardian reports that about 2,000 workers are striking at the Yue Yuen factory complex in Jiangxi province, southern China, joining at least 10,000 employees at another Yue Yuen factory complex in Dongguan, Guangdong province, who have been on strike since 14 April.
The Dongguan complex, which is operated by the Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, has at least 40,000 employees and produces footwear for Reebok, Nike, and more than 20 other brands. The Jiangxi complex mainly produces shoes for Adidas.
Workers’ core demand is backpay for unpaid social insurance from Yue Yuen. But over the course of the past week, as the factory continued to delay its reply and then deliver an unsatisfying response to workers, workers have developed new demands, including a 30 percent pay raise, a one-time payment based on seniority, or, in the case that the factory does not meet other demands, monetary compensation for terminating the labor contract.
On April 21, the factory posted notices explaining to workers some of reforms that would be made, including a “living subsidy” increase of 230 RMB per month per worker and social insurance that would be paid for each worker according to the law beginning on May 1.
Workers told China Labor Watch that while a small number of co-workers had returned to work, the majority of Yue Yuen workers have continued the action.
"A lot of this has to do with the fact that a lot of factories are closing down or relocating, or changing ownership ... Five years ago, [strikes] were all about wage increases. But the focus of workers' concerns now is very much on what happens if the factory closes down. What kind of payments do we get? Do we get the social insurance that we're legally entitled to?"
"The issue that [the workers] are concerned about is very widespread," said Geoff Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, told the Guardian. "In this case, at least the company was paying something, it just wasn't the full amount. In other cases we've seen, workers are getting nothing at all.
Workers told China Labor Watch that equipment has begun being moved out of the Adidas production facility and will be sent to a factory called the Wanbang (Fresh) Shoe Industry in Qingyuan, Guangdong Province. Campaigners have urged Adidas to rethink its choice to pull out of Yue Yuen factory and support a fair resolution between Yue Yuen and its workers.
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