Workers demonstrate for fair labour conditions outside Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta. The protest is targeted at multinational brands that manufacture in Indonesia, including sportswear giants Nike, Puma and adidas. The protest calls for an end to discrimination against unions and respect for workers' rights. Photo: Rino Hidayah/OxfamAUS

Talking with adidas

One way we support workers’ rights is by talking to companies like adidas directly. We often bring up particular factory cases and ask what adidas is doing to protect and promote workers’ rights. We make constructive suggestions based on advice from the workers involved. Here are some examples of our communication with adidas.

We ask adidas to implement workers’ rights in Indonesia

In adidas’ Indonesian supplier factories wages and allowances have not kept up with rising food prices. Workers who try to improve their pay and conditions continue to encounter intimidation and in some cases unfair dismissal. Adidas has committed to support freedom of association and transparency throughout its supply chain. But it needs to put those words into action by resolving these ongoing problems.

Freedom of Association Protocol signed, implementation pending

January 2012: Adidas Group wrote to Oxfam and the Play Fair Alliance to report on steps taken to implement the freedom of association protocol in Indonesia. While adidas has taken a number of activities to introduce the protocol to its suppliers, the brand has stopped short of requiring implementation of the protocol in its manufacturing agreements.

December 2011: Together with the Play Fair alliance, Oxfam wrote to Adidas to request a progress report on the implementation of the Freedom of Association Protocol in Indonesia. The letter called on adidas to continue to support the implementation of the Protocol at the factory level. Adidas has made a start on this implementation — in September 2011 Adidas reported to Oxfam that they had conducted workshops to introduce the Protocol’s obligations to 58 suppliers.

International labour rights alliance Play Fair will continue to monitor the Protocol’s implementation in collaboration with local Indonesian unions. For more information, visit:

Read Play Fair’s letter to adidas

July 2011: After 18 months of negotiations, adidas signed the Freedom of Association Protocolin June 2011, together with national unions and several supplier factories in Indonesia. Oxfam Australia welcomes adidas’ commitment to implement freedom of association in its Indonesian suppliers through the implementation of this new protocol. We asked that adidas immediately apply the protocol to current workplace issues, such as union access problems at Panarub and Shyang Yao Fung.

Read Oxfam Australia’s letter to adidas (PDF, 59kb)

Read the Freedom of Association Protocol (PDF, 149kb)

Unfair dismissal

May 2011: In a face-to-face meeting with adidas, Oxfam Australia asked the company to address continuing union access issues at PT Panarub. We expressed great disappointment in adidas’ inability to secure work for 33 unfairly dismissed Panaurb workers and expressed hope that adidas would respond to such situations more positively in the future. In addition Oxfam Australia raised serious concerns about reports from union representatives that toxic glues were still being used in the factory.

We also highlighted the case of SBN union leader, Erwin, who alleges that he was intimidated by personnel at adidas supplier Shyang Yao Fung before losing his job. Oxfam Australia urged adidas to take immediate action to end anti-union activity at the factory and ensure Mr Erwin’s re-instatement.

Read Oxfam Australia’s letter to adidas (PDF, 64kb)

Workers violently dispersed

October 2010: In early September several workers were injured when police violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration by thousands of workers on pay related issues at adidas’ Panarub supplier. Oxfam Australia and the Clean Clothes Campaign sent a letter to adidas expressing our concern about the violence against workers at the factory and asking adidas to ensure that Panarub improve their labour rights performance.

Read the Oxfam Australia and CCC letter to adidas about violence at Panarub (PDF, 169kb)

Letter to adidas CEO about outstanding labour rights issues

Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, Andrew Hewett, sent a letter to adidas CEO Herbert Hainer urging the company to resolve outstanding labour rights issues in Indonesia. With regard to the unemployed former Panarub and Spotec union leaders, Mr Hewett wrote: ‘the situation of these workers send an unacceptable message about the consequences of exercising one’s basic rights to organise—particularly in a country like Indonesia, where the right to freedom of association is relatively new.’ The correspondence included a public letter accompanied by 3869 signatures and individual messages from people throughout the world asking adidas to uphold workers’ rights.

Read Oxfam Australia’s letter to adidas’ CEO, Herbert Hainer (PDF, 57kb)

Read the Public letter to adidas (signed by 3869 individuals) (PDF, 23kb)

Adidas should act on their commitment

Oxfam Australia and the Clean Clothes ask adidas to step up its efforts and to finally realise its former commitments to assist unfairly dismissed union leaders. The letter also urges adidas to follow up on other outstanding commitments, such as following up on alleged bribery at PT Nikomas.

Read the October 2010 Oxfam Australia-Clean Clothes Campaign letter to adidas (PDF, 79kb)

July 2010: Adidas sent a reply to Oxfam Australia and the Clean Clothes Campaign. Adidas acknowledges flaws in the CLI recruitment systems and reported that the ‘clearly discriminatory’ gender quotas had now been removed. Adidas also responded positively to our suggestions about improving union engagement at the supplier. Regarding the issue of former union leaders, adidas wrote ‘[w]e share your concern that several former union officials from PT Spotec and PT Panarub have yet to find jobs after an extended period of unemployment.’ Adidas indicated that employment opportunities might become more available with the ‘upswing in the growth prospects for footwear suppliers in Indonesia.’ However we are disappointed that adidas did not renew its previous commitment to ask that suppliers consider the former union leaders for employment.

Read the July 2010 adidas letter to Oxfam Australia and the Clean Clothes Campaign (PDF, 178kb)

Supplier recruitment process flawed

June 2010: Together with the Clean Clothes Campaign we wrote a letter asking adidas to uphold its previous commitments to support the employment opportunities of ex-Panarub and ex-Spotec workers. While we welcome increased levels of transparency, we point out that recruitment at supplier Ching Luh Indonesia (CLI) continues to disadvantage the ex-Panarub and Spotec factory against less experienced workers. We urge adidas to redress the flaws in CLI’s recruitment processes, such as discrimination based on local connections and gender. We also urge adidas to ensure compliance with its own workplace standards. Adidas are increasing profits and expanding their Indonesia-based production – we suggest they need to commit more resources to ensure workers’ rights are protected across their supply chain.

Read our June letter to adidas (PDF, 510kb)

April 2010: Adidas wrote to Oxfam Australia denying that any deliberate discrimination had taken place against ex-Panarub union officials. At the same time adidas acknowledged flaws in recruitment practises at CLI and committed to respond in cases where there is clear evidence of discrimination or unfair treatment. Adidas claimed that while it would monitor the treatment of former Panarub workers by adidas suppliers, it would be unable to take a more proactive approach in supporting their employment opportunities. Adidas stated that there would be approximately new 3,200 job openings in Indonesia over coming months and committed to ensure that recruitment at its suppliers would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Adidas also sent a copy of CLI’s corrective action plan for recruitment along with supporting documents. These recruitment guidelines showed that CLI does not have a uniform set of employment criteria, but rather set out different standards for employment depending on prior experience and residence, as well as gender quotas. Adidas also sent us a list of its current supplier job vacancies.

Read adidas’ April letter to Oxfam (PDF, 210kb)

Need to end discrimination faced by former union leaders

February 2010: We wrote to adidas to highlight the obstacles and ongoing discrimination faced by union leaders who were unfairly lost their jobs at PT Panarub and former Spotec adidas supplier. Our letter suggests ways in which adidas could improve its efforts to support these workers in securing new employment. In particular, we highlight the personal struggle faced by workers who’ve now been unemployed for over three years. In our letter we ask adidas to ensure that former Panarub and Spotec workers be prioritised for recruitment at adidas supplier factories, and that adidas ensure there is no unfair discrimination against them. More broadly, the letter stresses the need for adidas to ensure that transparent recruitment procedures are adopted and implemented by all its suppliers.

Read our February letter to adidas (PDF, 122kB)

July-December 2009: Adidas restated their commitment to support ex-Panarub and ex-Spotec union leaders. However adidas claimed that they did not have the resources to track new employment opportunities across their supply chain. In their July 2009 letter adidas stated that they would explore the possibility of supporting an online recruitment site. Adidas wrote that they would examine the practicalities of the online site and get back to Oxfam with their findings. In December adidas admitted via email correspondence that the proposal was yet to be fully explored.

April 2009: Several of the union leaders who were dismissed from the Panarub factory or lost their jobs when the Spotec factory closed, continue to find it extremely difficult to find new jobs with other adidas supplier factories. Some fear they are being discriminated against because of their previous roles as union leaders. Examples of concerns union leaders have reported to us include having their applications ignored, having to pay bribes to enter adidas supplier factories and being rejected after interviews without reason.

Read our April letter to adidas (PDF, 90kB)

November 2008: Adidas wrote “We share your concern that a number of former union officials that were dismissed by PT Panarub have still to find gainful employment.” Adidas then said they did not receive feedback from the ex-Panarub union leaders to adidas’ proposals for a job placement scheme. In our April 09 response Oxfam provided adidas with evidence that the ex-Panarub officials were indeed in contact with adidas and had ask adidas to help them find new jobs. adidas wrote that they were disturbed to learn that the ex-Panarub leader Neneng had to pay money to secure a job in another adidas supplier. More generally, adidas admitted that they might need to review and change how they measure Freedom of Association (FOA), to ensure that it remains relevant to the protection and promotion of FOA principles.

Read adidas’ November letter to Oxfam (PDF, 132KB) (Our April 09 response to this letter is above)

Alleged harassment of union officials unacceptable

September 2008: We wrote to adidas, expressing concerned that several of adidas’ supplier factories “Panarub, Ching Luh and Alaska” were not upholding adidas’ own workplace standards. Trade union officials reported that they were being harassed these factories. We wrote to adidas recommending they put some concrete actions behind their stated commitment to Freedom of Association, the right to organise and collectively bargain.

Read our September letter to adidas (PDF, 88KB)

August 2008: Adidas responded to our July letter admitting that the recruitment process into Ching Luh (CLI) had “fallen short” of adidas’ own expectations. The good news was that 1,285 ex-Spotec workers had been hired by adidas suppliers. Please see more recent letters above regarding the SBGTS union officials who have still not been given interviews at CLI and our ongoing concerns about the right to organise at adidas suppliers (including CLI). In their letter, adidas confirmed that 969 ex-Spotec workers who applied for jobs at CLI have not been employed by CLI.

Read adidas’ August letter (PDF, 107KB)

Adidas should provide job opportunities to former Spotec and Dong Joe workers

July 2008: We wrote to adidas, noting that despite some good progress in the recruitment of some ex-Spotec workers into adidas’ new Ching Luh (CLI) supplier factory, we understood that CLI would not have capacity to hire all the 10,500 workers who lost their jobs. Considering this, we argued adidas should provide opportunities for the ex-Spotec and Dong Joe workers, who are still seeking work, to find jobs in other adidas suppliers in a location close to where they are now living in Indonesia.

We wrote again to adidas about our ongoing concern for the Dong Joe and Spotec workers. We told adidas that after almost a year without work some of the SBGTS ex-Spotec officials now have been forced to take on precarious, contract work.

Read our July letter to adidas (PDF, 85KB)

June 2008: We continued to encourage adidas to employ the 4,500 ex-Spotec workers at its new Ching Luh supplier factory. Ching Luh bought the bankrupt Spotec factory. We closely monitored the recruitment process at this new factory to check whether adidas kept its promise to prioritise ex-Spotec workers.

September 2007: Ten months after losing their jobs, workers from Dong Joe and Spotec still had not received their full back pay and wages, although Spotec workers did receive some of their entitlements. We wrote to adidas (PDF, 111KB) asking the company to step up its efforts to resolve outstanding issues in Spotec, Dong Joe, Tong Yang and issues in Panarub.

June 2007: Adidas wrote to us (PDF, 98KB) responding to letters from concerned members of the public and to our own concerns regarding the three factories and the nearly 20,000 workers left without their full entitlements (back pay and wages).

February 2007: Three unions at Spotec wrote a joint letter to adidas (PDF, 24KB)

January 2007: Adidas posted a question and answer document on its website.

November 2006: The Pt Spotec and Pt Dong Joe adidas supplier factories in Indonesia closed leaving a total of 10,500 workers without jobs.

We ask for action on Offside! report Jan 08

In May 2006, Oxfam’s Offside! report (PDF, 4MB) provided a comprehensive review of conditions facing workers producing for big sports brands. In January 2008, we wrote to adidas asking that it act on the Offside! report’s key recommendations.

Adidas responded to all nine recommendations. However, apart from releasing its global supplier list in 2007 – which was an important step forward in transparency – adidas has yet to concretely show how it is making progress to respect workers’ trade union and other labour rights.

Read our letter to adidas (January 2008) (PDF, 41KB)

Read adidas’s response to our letter (February 2008) (PDF, 96KB)

Read our response to adidas (April 2008) (PDF, 29KB)