Workers making Converse sneakers in Indonesia say supervisors throw shoes at them, slap them and call them dogs and pigs. Nike, the brand’s owner, admits that such abuse has occurred among the contractors that make its high-tops but says there was little it could do to stop it.
Dozens of workers interviewed by The Associated Press and a document released by Nike show that the footwear and athletic apparel giant has far to go to meet the standards it set for itself a decade ago to end its reliance on sweatshop labour.
That does not appear to explain abuses that workers allege at the Pou Chen Group factory in Sukabumi, which didn’t start making Converse products until four years after Nike bought Converse.
One worker said she was kicked by a supervisor last year after making a mistake while cutting rubber for soles. “We’re powerless. Our only choice is to stay and suffer, or speak out and be fired,” said the woman. The 10,000 mostly female workers at the Taiwanese-operated Pou Chen plant make around 50 cents an hour.
“They throw shoes and other things at us,” said a 23-year-old woman in the embroidery division. “They growl and slap us when they get angry.”