Adidas Plays Selfish Games
by Andrew Farinich
Child slave labor has become a prominent issue in today’s world. Child slave labor has become a less than important topic with everything that is going on right now in the world, however, it should be one of the world’s highest priorities. Now although children that work for these companies are making money to help provide for their family, nevertheless, these children are being treated harshly and the working conditions in which they work are very poor. Child slave labor refers to the illegal employment of children below 18 years of age in hazardous occupations. About 2 million children are forced in this type of slavery because of poverty in their family. These children are forced to work for cheaper wages and help provide food for their family. Big corporations and even little corporations take advantage of these children and get the same amount of work done as if they hired an adult worker. The benefit for them is that they do not have to pay these children nearly as much as they would to regular adult employee.
Being the ultimate status symbols for sports stars and young people their trademark three stripes, Adidas clothes cost a small fortune to buy and are promoted by world-famous names such as England soccer player David Beckham and Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. However, the Adidas company makes so much revenue because of the horrendous treatment of children in Indonesian sweatshop factories supplying the German company. In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, where most of the adidas products are made, children as young as 15 made to work 15-hour days, are expected to do at least 70 hours a week and punished for refusing to do overtime, and are paid less than $60 a month. Conditions such as these make it almost impossible for almost anyone to make a living and live a well life. Sports goods companies such as adidas have been exploiting workers in countries such as indonesia for years. This is how so much of their profit is made. Some workers are forced to work 12 hour shifts seven days a week, for less than a dollar a day.1 These are ridiculous conditions for anyone and need to be stopped. “Life is very hard,” said a worker with two small children. “We work morning to night but have no money left.” 2
The adidas factories do not pay employees for sick days and holidays. If the employee does not come in, then they do not get paid. This puts more pressure on the employee to work almost everyday of the week with hardly any sleep depending on how long their shift is.3 Conditions are poor in the factories and the employees act brutally to meet large orders within a limited time. When workers try to fight for more rights and try to form unions, they are let go and labeled as disruptive influences, just because they feel they are being mistreated they are fired. Most Adidas goods are produced in Third World countries, particularly Asia. However, Adidas denies ignoring workers' rights for the sake of profit. They claim that they have strict labor codes and are always looking at wage levels and conditions to make sure the factory is a good working environment.4
Geoffrey Crothall, editor of the China Labor Bulletin in Hong Kong said this about the pay Adidas gives to its employees. “The problem is that the minimum wage is not a living wage.”5 Underpayment and poor conditions for child workers are developing and becoming problems with many of the Adidas factories in India. Children are making sports goods for Adidas in terrible conditions. The employees are threatened with being fired unless they work overtime, and are locked up if they refuse. Not only are the children under aged working, it is illegal for them to be this young and receive this little pay. Children only work because they need to help support their own family. Even though they are just children, they shouldn’t be taken advantage of.
The rules and regulations of these big corporate companies, primarily Adidas need to change. Taking advantage of under privileged people is unfair to not only the people but to the economy. Adidas saves millions of dollars by hiring poor people in less fortunate countries for a very minimal wage. The companies then make more revenue and continue almost as a monopoly. These people and children have rights as workers and these rights need to be fought for.