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INDONESIA: Adidas 'fails to act' over sacked workers

by John AglionbyGuardian Unlimited
July 6th, 2006

Sportswear giant Adidas has reneged on its promise to demand the reinstatement of 33 workers dismissed from a major Indonesian supplier in a way the country's human rights commission has found to be illegal, Oxfam alleged today.

The German company's actions could be an attempt to deflect attention from its problematic relations with PT Panarub in the run-up to the World Cup climax, Oxfam claims.

Several top players, including David Beckham and the French captain, ZinÚdine Zidane, wear Adidas boots and promote the footwear made at the contentious Indonesian plant.

"Adidas is now the top sportswear sponsor at the World Cup with France making the final and Germany the semis. But off the field, the company deserves a red card for failing to support the human rights of workers," said Oxfam campaigner Kelly Dent.

Oxfam alleges Adidas promised to formally pressure Panarub after Indonesia's human rights commission ruled on May 31, in a non-binding decision, that there were insufficient grounds to dismiss 33 workers after a one-day strike last November.

"Oxfam has not seen any evidence that adidas has put formal pressure on Panarub," Ms Dent said. "They may be trying to string this out until after the World Cup. But this is not going to end with the end of the World Cup."

William Anderson, Adidas's regional head of social and environmental affairs, insisted the company had not altered its position.

"We are continuing to support the [sacked] workers," he told the Guardian. "We have requested that the factory reinstate the workers and the factory has refused to act on our request."

He said Adidas was not willing to send Panarub, which supplies Adidas with 650,000 pairs of shoes a year, a formal warning letter. "If we do that and the company refuses to comply then we would have no choice but to terminate our relations with them," he said. "We don't want to play high stakes because 11,000 people could then lose their jobs."

No one from Panarub was available for comment today.

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