The chief executive of Olympic sponsor Adidas came under fire yesterday (25 July) as a charity accused him of making unsubstantiated and contradictory claims about the pay of factory workers making its clothes.
War on Want hit out at Herbert Hainer after the Independent newspaper reported he refuted allegations that staff earned as little as 34p an hour and claimed Adidas ensured double the local pay rate. The paper quoted Hainer as saying "It's completely false. It's a lie.”
The charity pointed to the Independent’s own investigation in April, which found Indonesian factory workers on wages as low as 5,000 rupiah (34p an hour), skipping meals to save money and sending their children away to be looked after by grandparents. The investigation revealed factories paying less than the minimum wage and employees verbally abused, slapped in the face and told to lie about their conditions during audits by Adidas.
Adidas’s official response to the investigation provided no evidence that the workers actually received higher wages, instead relying on data about the countries’ average sector wages. The Adidas response also confirmed that at least one of its Indonesian suppliers failed to pay the legally mandated minimum wage, contradicting the statements made today.
In addition, War on Want criticised Hainer for asserting that Adidas had twice offered to talk with the charity, but received no response. It stressed that discussions with Adidas have taken place, but the multinational continues to deny the widespread nature of the problems and has failed to respond to the organisation’s demands that the firm commits to paying a living wage. The charity pledged to maintain its campaign for activists to put '34p' tags on Adidas products in British stores.
War on Want sweatshops campaigner Murray Worthy said: “Hainer should be ashamed of his attempts to mislead people about the way Adidas is profiting from the exploitation of workers around the world.
"Researchers have visited factories supplying Adidas in five different countries, and in none were workers paid a living wage. Hainer’s comments are a slap in the face to the thousands of workers fighting for fair pay. If Adidas really claims to uphold decent Olympic values, its workers must be paid enough to feed their families.”
War on Want contrasted the wages of Adidas workers witrh the £4,674,304 “compensation” Hainer received last year.