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News ::
Effect of Activism on Nike
22 Dec 2000
Financial Times article reports on activism having an effect on Nike, that they are making efforts to change factory conditions.
An article from this Thursday's Financial Times reports on how Nike is taking steps to kill its sweatshop image by improving their factories. This is the result of activist pressure, as the article points. The protests are having an effect and they should continue, the FT article talks about some of the improvments but it itself writes that there are still labor abuses going on and that the Nike's system of inspection is weak. Wanted to offer this since I won't be able to make the Newbury Niketown protest myself.

Check out the article at the link below:

If it doesn't work, go to and search for Nike.
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A lesson in business
23 Dec 2000
Public Relations gaffes that cause a decline in consumer confidence often lead to a change in business practice.

In other words:

Unite and Demand.
23 Dec 2000
This is a quote from the article you sourced above:

First of all, the whole article is focusing on the fact that important National media sources are starting to improve their 'reporting on Nike'; not on the actual issue of Nike's worker's conditions improving.

Check this out - Financial Times says that "Bambang, a 20-something migrant from a village in Java, said he had more pride in working in a factory than he would working on his family's rice paddy."

But, Bambang himself says this:
"How can Nike pay Tiger Woods millions of dollars and pay us nothing?." That's right, there is no quote attributed to him saying that he takes more pride in working for Nike's factory over the family farm.

In fact, the next quote in the paragraph is about that, but from another worker. "It's much better than working on a farm," says Dodi, a 22-year-old who presses plastic into shoe moulds. "And it's much better than not working."

Funny how that Propoganda works.

Look at it for yourselves:

""Right issue, wrong company," is Nike's official response to the complaints. And, to an extent, a visit to a factory bears out this answer. Workers in an industrial satellite town on the outskirts of Jakarta describe their factory as clean and modern. Bambang, a 20-something migrant from a village in Java, said he had more pride in working in a factory than he would working on his family's rice paddy.

Indonesia's economic crisis has left more than 40m unemployed. While Nike's labour conditions are not perfect, "It's much better than working on a farm," says Dodi, a 22-year-old who presses plastic into shoe moulds. "And it's much better than not working." But the endorsement of Nike is not whole-hearted. Although Nike contractors and union organisers say they "do not like the boycott Nike campaign", it is chiefly because they fear it may lead to cancelled orders and job losses.

Bambang, like most of his colleagues, complains of low wages: "How can Nike pay Tiger Woods millions of dollars and pay us nothing?" Others complain of forced overtime and confirm the reports of abuse by Korean and Taiwanese supervisors."

PROPAGANDA-media bias
23 Dec 2000
I am not saying the article is unbiased at all, all I am saying is that _there is_ an article. Anti-sweatshop protest have repeatedly been marginalized as people complaining about an economic system "they don't understand" and that these protests hurt the workers more than do anything for them. That isn't the case, and that isn't an argument history supports. The way people get labor rights is through protest and demand for better conditions, by consumers vowing not to participate in labor abuse. These protests have continued for a number of years and they are denting the system as evidenced by the article. The activist pressure has gotten too large to be ignored and Nike has been forced to deal with it. They are making marginial reforms now, and if the pressure is kept on, they will have to go much further.
See also:
i'm not sure i understand
24 Dec 2000
I was only pointing out the Propoganda aspects of the Financial Times piece. I was not trying to say that you were trying to give us propoganda. I apologize for causing any misunderstanding.
Re: I'm not sure I understand
24 Dec 2000
Yeah, abe, sorry about that response, I read through your message a little too quickly. I thought you meant the article didn't mean that much because it was just a propaganda/superficial look for people interested in Nike's business performance. Now I see you were just pointing out how FT crafted/marginalized the article and quotes to a perspective.

The reason I responded to it so (too) quickly was that it is sort of hard to see what the article means or what it is declaring between the lines since it is a fairly superficial, typical business piece. The message is that Nike is scared, and its scared because the activism against them is too large for them to ignore.

The people who have been out protesting these companies should take that to heart, because it means they've had an effect. The simple thing of not being ignored is a hell of an accomplishment when you go up against a powerful company like this. This won't be the message Nike puts out in their PR campaign to reform their image, and probably not the one echoed out in the press. Its probably going to be something like, "yes, we've made mistakes in the past, but we are taking responsibility now."

That's not the truth, they are taking responsibility because people have continued their fight against them despite being lampooned by the press as "know-nothings" of modern economic situations. Along with protest force against Nike being acknowledged, the PR revamp of the Nike image has brought marginal reforms in factory conditions (the article mentions some of these), and that is an accomplishment. My point is just to show those demonstrating that it isn't a hopeless cause, that in fact, they are winning, and they should keep pushing until solid reforms come about.

Here are some of the relevant things I saw in the FT article, the financial press is interesting to read since they have to a bit more straightforward about things than the normal press for their readership, I think Chomsky has pointed this out a few times:

Nike, a market leader in the sports footwear and apparel industry with a turnover of $9bn in the year to the end of May, has gone to great lengths to fight back after an eight-year public relations assault by activists, students and unions.

The grass-roots campaign began in 1992, when Jeff Ballinger, a US-based activist working in Indonesia, published a damning report about conditions in the country's factories, detailing labour abuses, unsanitary conditions and forced overtime. A large part of the problem is Nike's system of sub-contracting. The company does not manufacture its own shoes but farms out work to hundreds of companies across the world.

Student groups in the US lobbied for the independent monitoring of factories of companies selling goods on US campuses, threatening Nike's share of a $2.4bn business in college wear. Activist groups such as Global Exchange bombarded the media, alleging that seven-year-old Pakistani children sewed Nike soccer balls for 6 cents a day.

Nike's initial response was stumbling but it soon gathered pace. In 1992, the company implemented a code of conduct that dealt explicitly with labour rights. There followed a series of initiatives: Ernst & Young began monitoring labour conditions in 1994; Nike joined President Bill Clinton's Fair Labour Campaign in 1996. The same year, the company created a labour practices department. The company asked Andrew Young, a prominent black American who had been mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, and US ambassador to the United Nations, to review factories in Vietnam, China and Indonesia.

Yet Nike's war is far from over. During the Sydney 2000 Olympics in July, the Australian arm of Nikewatch called for athletes to boycott Nike products and implored them to visit factories in south-east Asia. In August this year Jim Kealy, a soccer coach from the USA who is embroiled in a lawsuit with Nike, worked for a month in Nike's subcontracting factories and claimed that he could not survive on the wages he was paid. "We still have a long way to go," says Nikewatch's Mr Connor.

Academics visiting Nike factories claim that there is still much to criticise, in spite of the company's efforts. Mr Dara O'Rourke, a geographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said one Vietnamese factory pumped out pollution 100 times above the legal maximum.
Another of Mr O'Rourke's complaints is over PwC's monitoring methods, which he says are fundamentally flawed. Interviews with factory workers are conducted by "men in suits" in full view of factory supervisors, he alleges. Workers are afraid to talk about their conditions. Recent findings by aid agencies claim that workers are still forced to work overtime and are still abused by their Taiwanese and Korean supervisors. Mr Connor also claims that Nike union workers are discouraged from organising and pressing wage claims.