(en) Nike Document Exposed - Urgent

Robert Cherwink (rc@vom.com)
Fri, 7 Nov 1997 20:42:20 -0800


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Return-Path: <owner-corp-watchers@igc.org> Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 14:16:06 -0800 From: Corporate Watch <corpwatch@igc.org> Sender: owner-corp-watchers@igc.org Subject: Nike Document Exposed - Urgent To: corp-watchers@igc.org X-Sender: corpwatch@pop.igc.org

TRANSNATIONAL RESOURCE & ACTION CENTER----CORPORATE WATCH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 1997

Contacts: China Brotsky (415) 561-6337 Joshua Karliner (415) 561-6567 Sara Wood (415) 561-6568 http://www.corpwatch.org Secret Ernst & Young Audit of Nike in Vietnam Exposes Hazardous and Unjust Working Conditions:

Accounting Firm's Labor and Environmental Auditing Competence Comes Under Fire as TRAC Independently Documents Even Worse Conditions Inside the Same Nike Factory

Audit, TRAC Report and First Photos From Inside a Nike Vietnam Plant Available on Corporate Watch <http://www.corpwatch.org>

SAN FRANCISCO, November 7 - As the White House Apparel Industry Partnership prepares to make its final report to the President, they have been presented new and damaging information on the way monitoring is being conducted by the industry.

Nike hired the public accounting firm Ernst & Young to conduct an audit of labor and environmental conditions inside its subcontractors' factories in Vietnam to see if the factories were in compliance with Nike's corporate code of conduct. This secret report was recently leaked to a research associate of the Transnational Resource & Action Center (TRAC) in San Francisco, California.

TRAC also has the first independent photographs ever taken inside a Nike factory in Vietnam.

While the Ernst & Young Report declares that Nike is in compliance with its own code of conduct, it simultaneously documents a series of hazardous and unjust working conditions inside the plant, including worker exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Meanwhile, TRAC's report documents much more serious conditions than the accounting firm found, calling into question the role that such firms can or should play in monitoring the shoe and garment industries.

Dara O'Rourke, TRAC Research Associate and United Nations consultant, was able to independently document conditions at the site of the Ernst & Young audit, the Tae Kwang Vina factory in Vietnam. Mr. O'Rourke conducted walk-through audits of environmental and working conditions, interviewed management personnel, met with Tae Kwang Vina's managing director and interviewed workers confidentially outside the factory.

"I met with workers inside the Nike factory that had never been informed that the chemicals they were using to assemble Nike sneakers were toxic," said Mr. O'Rourke. "These workers were working long hours for little pay in unsafe conditions, often without protective equipment and with little or no training about other potential hazards."

TRAC's report,"Smoke From a Hired Gun," authored by Mr. O'Rourke, critiques the Ernst & Young's findings and methodology, while revealing more serious workplace hazards and labor law violations than Ernst & Young documented.

Although Nike asserts it has solved the problems reported by E&Y, Mr. O'Rourke was in the factory in June, six months after the audit was done, and saw very dangerous conditions continuing. He also spoke with workers in October who reported that a number of the problems persist.

China Brotsky, Chair of the Board of TRAC, "There is contention among the members of the White House Apparel Industry Partnership on the issue of independent monitoring. Our report clearly illustrates that accredited human rights, labor and religious organizations must independently monitor these factories, not accountants on industry payrolls."

The Apparel Industry Partnership is a committee comprised of industry, labor, human rights, and religious representatives that were assembled by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to address issues of sweatshop labor. The committee's report will attempt to establish global labor codes and international monitoring system for the U.S. apparel industry.

-30-

Sara Wood, Corporate Watch http://www.corpwatch.org <corpwatch@igc.org>

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