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Fri, 4 Apr 1997 17:38:07 GMT

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From: Thuyen Nguyen <thuyen@digex.net> To: justice-nike <justice-nike-l@teleport.com>, nike@saigon.com

PRESS RELEASE from Community Aid Abroad in Austrailia

4 April, 1997

"Walking Ghosts Who Work in Satan's factory."

Australian academic's new report reveals "worst conditions yet" in Nike contractor's Indonesian factory.

"It's the most disturbing report we've seen so far," Community Aid Abroad spokesperson Tim Connor said today, speaking of Australian academic Peter Hancock's new report on working conditions in Nike-producing factories in Banjaran in West Java, Indonesia. "There have been several reports on Nike-producing factories near Jakarta, and the conditions there are bad enough," he said. "Peter has spent several months interviewing workers in an extremely remote area and the situation there is nothing short of abhorrent. It seems the less likely it is that researchers will visit, the less concern Nike and its contractors pay to human rights." Hancock's report reveals that that in Nike contractor Feng Tay's factory in Banjaran:

. Supervisors had been trained in the systematic abuse of women workers using the Indonesian equivalent of phrases such as "Fuck you!" and "Move you stupid bitch!"

. The average work day is 11.5 hours and 81% of workers work seven days a week.

. Workers who take sick leave are dismissed instantly, irrespective of whether they have a doctor's certificate. This puts pressure on them to work in these extreme conditions even when they are sick. In one case a woman fainted on the job, was not taken to the medical clinic and later died.

. The average age of workers is 16 and 41% of workers surveyed were under 16 when they first started working (one was only 11 when she started at the factory).

The title of the report, "Nike's Satanic Factories in West Java", comes from an Indonesian villager. Hancock writes, "I arrived in the old man's village at about 8pm to survey factory workers. I asked him where I could find women who worked for Feng Tay (Nike's contractor). He replied that they had not returned since leaving at 4am the previous morning. He told me the women from Feng Tay were called 'Walking Ghosts who work in Satan's factory' and if I wanted to speak with them I would have to become a ghost myself."

Hancock's report comes hot on the heels of a much publicised report on the weekend by US group Vietnam Labor Watch on conditions faced by Vietnamese workers making Nikes. Community Aid Abroad is campaigning for the protection of the basic human rights of workers who make Nikes.

To arrange an interview with the author, contact Peter Hancock on 09 273 8572. To obtain copies of the report and information on Community Aid Abroad's campaign contact Tim Connor on 02 9264 1392.

---------- The Sydney Morning Herald 4 April 1997 p.10 (World)

Shoe Sweatshops Satan's factory: Nike attacked by researcher by Gordon Feeney of AAP in Jakarta

A new Australian study has accused glamour sports shoe maker Nike of callous exploitation of workers, including children as young as 11.

The study, by Perth academic Mr Peter Hancock, also alleges that in one case in early 1996 a 23-year old woman collapsed from exhaustion in a factory licensed by Nike to make its products.

The woman later died after she was taken to lie in a mosque and received no medical attention, Mr Hancock alleged in a report that dubbed the Nike operation as "Satan's factories".

Nike and its Indonesian licensee have consistently denied allegations of worker exploitation across Asia. The company argues it is not directly responsible for the licensee factories.

Its frontman, basketball superstar Michael Jordan, said last year: "It's Nike's responsibility. I only endorse the shoe products."

Mr Hancock said yesterday he had spent eight months, from June 1996 to February this year, at two Nike licensee factories sotu of Bandung in West Java, and had been deeply disturbed at what he saw.

"I was shocked. I found it unbelievable; they are making record profits and yet they have really shocking conditions", he said.

Me Hancock said he found the average working day lasted 11.5 hours, that workers wre instantly sacked for taking sick leave and that woman workers suffered systematic verbal abuse.

Some 80% of workers were forced to work seven days a week and most earned Indonesian minimumlegal wage - about $2.50 a day plus overtime, that was sometimes docked for underperformance.

Mr Hancock said other major sports shoe operations, including Nike rival Reebok, had far more satisfactory working conditions.

He rejected Nike's assertion that it had litle control over licensee factories, reporting that two US Nike representatives worked on the factory floor.

During his study, Mr Hancock said he had found many factory workers aged under 16, with the youngest 11.

"The 11-year old girl was under the strict control of her parents who said he was too stupid to continue at school. They have to say that as an excuse to the Government for taking her out of school" he said.

Mr Hancock said Indonesian authorities appeared to have little interest in workers' conditions. "Even middle-level factory managers told stories of government inspectors coming to the factory to receive what you might call gratuities but making no inspection."

The title of the report, "Nike's satanic factories in West Java", was taken from an account by a villager.

"I arrived in the old man's village at about 8pm to survey factory workers. I asked him where I could find women who worked for Feng Tey [the name of the Nike licensee].

"He replied that they had not returned since leaving at 4am the previous morning.

"He told me the women were called "walking ghosts who work at Satan's factory" and if I wanted to speak with them I would have to become a ghost myself."

* Brad Norington reports that the report on working conditions in factories producing shoes for Nike in West Java follows a similar study by the US-based Vietnam Labour Watch, which reported on harsh conditions and low pay for women in four Vietnam factories contracted to produce sports shoes for Nike.

According to the Vietnam report, women as young a 15 were working for 20c an hour and had to endure corporal punishment as a penalty for wearing non-regulation shoes.

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