Nike Targeted in Pre-Olympics Worker Exploitation Protests
by Sarorn Chum, Susan Haley, Jessica Kennedy and Daynah Nguyen, Year 9
Parafield Gardens High School, Parafield Gardens, Australia
One of the world's most famous sportswear companies is under attack in the lead up to the
Sydney Olympic Games.
Protests are being organised against Nike by the Fair Wear Campaign, a group trying to stop the
exploitation of women and children by international clothing manufacturers. The organisation
claims that Nike employs more than 500,000 workers in 600 "contract" factories, mostly in Asia
and Latin America. They say that workers producing Nike shoes are over-worked and underpaid,
working up to 80 hours a week just to eat. A series of protests have been organised in Australia in
the lead-up to the Olympics, which Nike is sponsoring, to highlight "Nike's denial of
responsibility". A former Nike worker from Indonesia will be guest speaker at public meetings
next week to tell people first-hand about the conditions that women experience.
Parafield Gardens High School teacher Ms Felicity Woidt, who attended a conference last week
on women and poverty, said participants at the conference were urged to boycott Nike products.
"Schools are also being asked to check to see where their uniforms are being made to make sure
that they are not exploiting women and children," she said. "A lot of the women work in
sweatshops or at home and often they have to get their children to help out." Ms Woidt said about
200 women attended the conference from various unions including the police, nurses and teachers.
Workshops were organised on topics including violence against women, poverty, and child labor.
A women's march will be held in September and October to protest against the continuing
exploitation of women.
For more information on the Fair Wear campaign and lists of companies that have pledged to stop
exploitation, visit: http://vic.uca.org.au/fairwear/main_page.htm.