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Adidas reels under Olympics ‘sweatshops’ protests

As controversy over G4S rages, another key company linked to the Olympics, the sportswear brand Adidas, today attempted to repel criticism when staff at a flagship store blocked protesters from targeting “sweatshop” Games merchandise.

Staff block Games merchandise from 34p an hour tags

As controversy over G4S rages, another key company linked to the Olympics, the sportswear brand Adidas, today attempted to repel criticism when staff at a flagship store blocked protesters from targeting “sweatshop” Games merchandise.

In the first nationwide direct action over a 2012 Olympics sponsor, campaigners attached “34p” tags to Adidas products at stores around Britain – the minimal hourly wage rate for Indonesian workers making the brand’s goods.

But at the flagship Adidas store in London’s Oxford Street, activists tagged some products, but staff prevented them attaching tags to its Olympics range.

The UK-wide protests took place as the campaign group Labour Behind the Label alleged that Adidas workers earn only £10 a week basic pay to make official merchandise for the Olympics.

The group cites a breach of an agreement with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games that merchandise suppliers must pay workers a sustainable living wage.

This accusation comes as the Games “family” - athletes, officials and world media – starts to arrive in London.

Earlier this week, Adidas published a defensive blog on its website from William Anderson, head of social and environmental affairs for the Asia Pacific region, seeking to justify the 34p an hour pay rate - despite record £529 million net profits last year.

The blog exposed that workers supplying Adidas could in fact be paid even less than 34p an hour, and drew public criticism.

War on Want sweatshops campaigner Murray Worthy said: “Adidas is clearly now on the rack through growing pressure over sweatshops. Thousands of our tags are being put on its products across the country. It is high time Adidas recognised exploitation is not OK and ensured a living wage for its factory workers.”

The charity is calling on Adidas to tackle the abuse of workers’ rights in its supplier factories, as well as demanding a living wage, decent conditions and trade union rights for its suppliers’ workers.

War on Want also points to Adidas estimates that interest generated by its association with the Games will bring sales of its Olympic products worth £100 million, with four billion people expected to watch the global sports event on television.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Photos available on request.

The allegation that Cambodians earn just a £10 a week basic wage for producing Adidas is at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9399363/Cambodian-workers-on-10-a-week-making-Olympics-fanwear.html

In April media reports cited workers supplying Adidas in Indonesia receiving as little as 34 pence an hour, with some factories paying less than the minimum wage. Employees were verbally abused, slapped in the face and told to lie about their conditions during Adidas factory audits: Exposed: The reality behind London's 'ethical' Olympics

In May, research by the Playfair 2012 campaign found workers making Adidas goods being paid poverty wages and forced to work excessive overtime. The research found people in China working from 8 am to 11 pm. In Sri Lanka researchers found people being forced to work overtime in order to meet production targets. In the Philippines, more than half the workers interviewed said that in order to cover their basic needs they are forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for high-interest loans. At all of the factories researchers visited, workers reported that they were not paid a living wage that covers their basic needs. Fair Games: Human rights of workers in Olympic 2012 supplier factories

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)7983 550728

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Tags: campaigns | olympics | sweatshops