Olympic-branded gear – to be worn by British athletes and Games volunteers – is being manufactured for Adidas in sweatshop conditions in
Indonesia, making a mockery of claims by London 2012 organisers that this summer's Games will be the most ethical ever.

While the German company – which unveiled its Stella McCartney-designed kit for British athletes last month – hopes to make £100m from its Olympic lines, the mainly young, female factory employees work up to 65 hours (25 hours more than the standard working week), for desperately low pay. They also endure verbal and physical abuse, they allege, are forced to work overtime, and are punished for not reaching production targets.

None of the nine factories pays its employees a living wage – about 20 per cent higher than the official minimum wage – one of the cornerstones of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) base code, an internationally recognised labour code adopted by the Olympics organising committee, Workers struggle to survive on pay as low as 34p an hour, skipping meals to save money, and sending their children away to be looked after by grandparents.

The Independent was told that four of Adidas's Indonesian suppliers pay less than the minimum wage for the garment industry.

The six Indonesian factories did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Stella McCartney declined to comment.

It's no secret why Adidas and other sportswear brands such as Nike and others get most of their products manufactured in developing countries. Wages are cheap and labour law is lax. Over the past decade, such companies – in response to public pressure – have taken steps to monitor their supply chains.
But as The Independent investigation of Adidas's Olympic suppliers demonstrates, it is very difficult to control conditions in locally managed factories.

Adidas says it is committed to "ensuring fair labour practices, fair wages and safe working conditions throughout our global supply chain". It conducts hundreds of factory audits annually in 69 countries where it does business. However, workers in its Indonesian factories told The Independent that the audits are farcical.

Ratna, a worker at one of Adidas contracted factories, said: "They (the management) get people to hide in bathrooms, so there are fewer people on the production line and it looks more efficient. If Adidas wants to ask questions, the workers are prepared beforehand with questions and answers. “We have to tell them we're paid the minimum wage, and we mustn't tell them we work overtime at weekends." We can never tell the truth, otherwise we might lose our jobs."

Anna McMullen, a spokeswoman for the Playfair 2012 campaign, said yesterday: "Adidas's own safeguards have failed, as this is an industry which defaults to the lowest standards in order to make the most profit. Unless proactive intervention is taken to deliver living wages and rights, workplaces like these will continue to be the norm.”


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