Play Fair at the Olympics: Respect workers' rights in the sportswear industry

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In March 2004 Oxfam, Global Unions and the Clean Clothes Campaign released a report and launched a campaign, called Play Fair at the Olympics. Hundreds of thousands of sportswear workers, mostly women in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, are working long hours under arduous conditions for poverty-level wages. This case study aims to illustrate what is at stake.
  ã Introduction________________________________________________________3ã Methodology_______________________________________________________4ã PT Tae Hwa Indonesia – Factory Data___________________________________5ã Wages_____________________________________________________________5ã Overtime__________________________________________________________6 Box 1 - Impossibly High Targets in the sewing department________________8ã Harassment and Abuse_______________________________________________9ã Trade Union Rights__________________________________________________11 Box 2 - Parkati’s story______________________________________________13ã Access to Leave_____________________________________________________16 Sick Leave_______________________________________________________16 Menstrual Leave__________________________________________________16 Maternity Leave__________________________________________________17ã Occupational Health and Safety_______________________________________17ã Contractual Status__________________________________________________18ã FILA and Working Conditions at Tae Hwa______________________________19 FILA’s Purchasing Practices________________________________________19 FILA’s Code of Conduct____________________________________________20ã Conclusion________________________________________________________21 Contents 2 RESPECT WORKERS’ RIGHTS IN THE SPORTSWEAR INDUSTRY MAKETRADEFAIR  Introduction In 2004, as they have for previous Olympics, Nike, Reebok, adidas, Fila, Puma, Asics, Mizuno and other sports brands are spending millions of dollars on advertising and brand-promotion linked to the Athens Games. Each company is seeking to associate itself with athletic achievement, to persuade the public to buy the clothes worn by their heroes.In March 2004 Oxfam, Global Unions and the Clean Clothes Campaign released a report and launched a campaign, called Play Fair at the Olympics, highlighting a less public and less attractive side of the industry. Hundreds of thousands of sportswear workers, mostly women in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, are working long hours under arduous conditions for poverty-level wages.In response to this campaign many of these sports brands have agreed to collectively meet with human rights groups and unions to discuss how to improve respect for workers’ rights across the industry. History will tell whether they are serious in this commitment—whether it represents a turning point in the struggle for workers’ human rights or just another public relations tactic to head off criticism.This case study aims to illustrate what is at stake. Based on research interviews conducted in July 2004, it shows how workers’ lives are affected by current practices in the industry and gives a sense of what the personal impact could be if the industry made a concerted effort to respect human rights. It does this by presenting an in-depth look at the lives of workers in just one factory, the PT Tae Hwa Indonesia factory (hereafter “Tae Hwa”) in Tangerang in West Java. Previous research conducted by Oxfams, Global Unions and the Clean Clothes Campaign and released in March 2004 in the Play Fair At The Olympics  report indicates that labour abuses are a problem across the sportswear industry and need to be addressed collectively by all sports brands.It should be recognised that in some respects conditions in Tae Hwa are better than in many of the Indonesian sportswear factories investigated for the Play Fair At The Olympics  report. Notably, the factory meets Indonesian labour regulations regarding maternity leave and sick leave and employs the great majority of workers on a permanent basis which workers strongly prefer as compared to temporary work.Nevertheless, each company must take responsibility for its own production, as should Fila, in this case. While this workplace is by no means worse than the many workplaces featured in the March report, it serves its purpose as a case study, featuring some typical problems of worker exploitation and abuse found throughout the sportswear industry.This case study is presented to show that it is necessary for the global civil society to continue to press the sportswear industry and the Olympic movement to ensure respect for the rights of sportswear workers and will not tire until the industry has become a positive example of good practice rather than an example of human rights disregarded in the pursuit of profit. Methodology This case study is based on 23 hours of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions held in July 2004 with 15 current workers at Tae Hwa. There were also 2 in-depth interviews totalling approximately 4 hours conducted with 1 former worker (Ms. Parkati), one in January 2004 and one in July 2004. Each of the current workers only participated in either 1 interview or 1 focus group discussion. Five different researchers conducted the focus group discussions and interviews. They were Bhumika Muchhala, Inzamliyah Izzah, Sintiche E. D. Kowel, Carla Kivits and Marita Hutjes. The in-depth interviews and focus groups with current workers were based on interview schedules (lists of questions). There were two interview schedules, one for the first round of interviews and one for the second round, in which more detail was sought on particular issues. Many of the questions were open-ended, and interviewees were encouraged to provide details and examples. The case study was written by Tim Connor and Elizabeth Saunders and edited by Duncan Pruett, based on English translations of the transcripts of the interviews and focus group discussions. Weight was given to interview evidence based both on its internal consistency and its consistency with evidence presented in other interviews. For more details on the research methods please contact Tim Connor <>. 34  how much it costs to buy basic food items in the area. She found that eggs cost Rp 8.000 per kilogram, beef Rp 38.000 per kilogram, rice Rp 3.000 per kilogram, the cheapest fish Rp 7.000 per kilogram and ten pieces of tofu cost Rp 1.000. So workers at Tae Hwa would have to work for an hour to earn enough to pay for a kilogram of rice, for two hours to earn enough to pay for a kilogram of eggs and for ten hours to earn enough to pay for a kilogram of beef. Since they are dependent on overtime income, most workers would not support a reduction in overtime work unless it was accompanied by an increase in the standard wage. Overtime Indonesian labour law states that standard working hours should be 40 hours per week and requires that overtime must be voluntary and can amount to no more than 3 hours in a day or 14 hours in a week 1  It also requires that workers be given one day off in every seven. 2 Standard working hours at Tae Hwa meet the Indonesian legal standard of 40 hours per week, but overtime is compulsory and is illegally high. In most departments there is a five-hour shift on Saturdays and from Monday to Friday the shifts last from 7am to 3pm, with a lunch break which in most Departments lasts from 12pm until 1pm. On Fridays the lunch breaks lasts until 1.30pm so that workers can pray.Levels of orders, and hence of overtime, vary throughout the year. During the low season from July to September workers report that most departments do not have overtime. Orders gradually increase in October, November and December; peak in January, February and March and taper off in April, May and June. Outside of the low season it is usual to have at least 2 hours of overtime per day. During the peak months of January, February and March in the sewing department it is common to work from 7am until 8pm or 9pm and two or three times a month during this peak season workers are expected to work from 7am until 11pm in order to meet export deadlines. In another department during the peak season workers occasionally have to work from 7am until 3 am the next day. In March and April 2004 orders were very high and workers in at least one department had to work 7 days a week, with a 7am to 3pm shift on Sundays. At times workers in this Department have had to work all four Sundays in a month, meaning that they have gone for a whole month without a day off. PT Tae Hwa Indonesia – Factory Data Tae Hwa is a sport shoe factory located in Cipukat in Tangerang in West Java, Indonesia. Shoes produced here are both exported and sold in the local Indonesian market. The factory is owned by a Korean company and has joint Korean and Indonesian management. Approximately 5,250 workers are currently employed in the factory and approximately 80% of the workers are women. Workers interviewed for this study estimate that FILA sports shoes account for between 70% and 90% of the production at Tae Hwa. FILA products were first made at Tae Hwa in 1991 and the factory has consistently produced for FILA since 1994. Workers report that the factory supplies directly to FILA, without any intermediary. Other brands that are either currently produced or have recently been produced at the factory include Ellese, Post, Geox and Langford. The factory is divided into thirteen departments: Assembling, Preparing, Cutting, Laminating, Sewing, Printing, Press, Rolling, Development, Packing for Export, Finishing, Quality Control and the Warehouse. The Sewing department is the biggest and employs about 1,250 workers, all of whom are women. Some Tae Hwa departments regularly sub-contract specialised parts of their work to other local factories. Wages The base monthly wage at Tae Hwa is Rp.660,000 (US$72) per month, which is equal to the legal minimum wage in Tangerang. Workers’ wages do not increase with seniority. Converted to an hourly rate, workers are paid Rp. 3,815 (US$0.42) per hour and Rp. 26,705 (US$2.93) for a standard 7-hour day. In addition workers receive a food allowance of Rp. 2,500 (US$0.27) per day or Rp.5,000 (US$0.54) on days when there is overtime until the evening and a monthly bonus of Rp. 40,000 (US$4.44) for full attendance. A factory bus picks up workers who live far from the factory. Two per cent of workers’ monthly wages or Rp. 13,200 (US$1.45) are compulsorily contributed to the state social security program (JAMSOSTEK) and this is supplemented by a payment of Rp. 24,420 (US$2.67) per month by the factory. The social security program includes Work Accident Insurance, Life Insurance and a Pension.Workers interviewed for this case study report that their standard wages are too low to meet their living costs and that they are dependent on overtime income in order to meet their needs and those of their dependents and to have money to spend on themselves or to send home to relatives. One of the interviewers investigated 56  Workers reported that whether or not they are given additional breaks depended on the length of overtime worked. On those days when overtime only lasts until 7 pm they usually receive no additional breaks, except for a ten-minute break for Moslem workers to pray. When overtime lasts until 9pm they are usually given a one-hour break between 6pm and 7pm. After that they usually receive no further breaks, even on those few occasions when overtime lasts until 3 am the next morning. Workers in one focus group reported that during the peak season Moslem workers are frequently refused time to pray but that some workers insist on praying in any case even though it usually makes their superiors furious.Workers get very little notice of overtime, nor are they usually told how many hours of overtime they will be working. They are usually told half an hour before they are scheduled to finish work that they will be working overtime. The overtime is compulsory. Workers reported that refusing to work overtime can result in being demoted to another department, having to clean the factory or mop the floor and can potentially lead to dismissal from the factory.   For those overtime hours for which workers are paid (see Box 1), they are paid at the legal rate of one and a half times the standard hourly rate for the first hour and double the standard hourly rate for subsequent hours. Overtime work, and hence overtime income varies significantly between departments, but workers reported that during peak periods when overtime is very high in some departments they are able to earn between Rp. 400,000 (US$43.80) and Rp.700,000 (US$76.67) per month in additional overtime income. Most workers depend on this overtime income to repay their debts, meet their daily needs and have some money to spend on themselves and would not support a reduction in working hours unless it was accompanied by an increase in standard wages. 78 Box 1 – Impossibly High Targets in the Sewing Department There are particular issues with overtime in the sewing department, the biggest department and one in which all of the workers are women. Each lane of sewers is given a target of the number of shoes they must complete in a day, but workers report that the target is deliberately set so high that it is almost impossible to complete it within a standard shift 3 . In one of the focus groups a woman from this department explained: Usually we have two hours overtime every day from 3 to 5pm. We are not paid for these two hours per day because we need these two hours to reach our daily target. Only after these two hours do we start getting  paid the standard overtime wages that other workers in the factory are paid. The target that the management sets is more than what a worker can realistically achieve within the regular working hours...We should be paid for these two hours of overtime because usually we have it everyday, six days a week. That adds up to a lot of lost wages in the sewing department and it creates an unfair and unequal dynamic between us sewing workers and the rest of the workers...The target is set very high, and even if we reach it on occasion the management will increase it to a higher amount, so that we will never be able to reach our target no matter how hard and fast we work. In another group a sewing worker made the same point: The management likes to play games with the target. So every time that we actually reach the target, which is rare, the management will increase it. So we can never realistically reach our target. Or be paid for our two hours of daily unpaid overtime work that management claims cannot be considered for overtime wages because we haven’t reached our targets yet. And so we can never go home on time either. There is so much pressure on workers in the sewing department to reach their targets that they do not even get their full lunch-break. A worker explained: The standard lunch hour is from 12 noon to 1pm, however in the sewing department we cannot start our lunch break from 12 noon because if we do a manager will then yell at us, ‘Where do you think you are going?’ So we start our break at 10 minutes past
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