INDEPENDENT NEWS

Letter from Nike Workers to Tiger Woods

Published: Wed 9 Jan 2002 12:18 AM
Dear Tiger Woods,
We are grateful for the chance to present you with information about the situation of Nike workers in Thailand.
First, we would like to be clear that we have the utmost respect for your skill and perseverance as an athlete. Second, we wish to express that Thai workers need the jobs that Nike provides and are willing to work hard.
However, no one should have to experience the deplorable working conditions and wages that Nike employees face.
It is estimated that there are 70,000 workers producing Nike products in Thailand.
Additionally, thousands of Thais are employed as migrant laborers at factories producing for Nike in Taiwan. It is on behalf of these tens of thousands of workers that we appeal to you to use your influence as a respected athlete and as a benefactor of Nike™s success to push for better working conditions.
Mr. Woods, your current contract with Nike nets you $100 million US over a five year period. In contrast an average Nike worker in Bangkok earns the Thai minimum wage of 162 baht per day - $4 US and workers in the provinces earn 130 baht per day - $3 US.
This means that a Thai Nike worker must work for 26.5 million days or 72,000 years to receive what you will earn during this contract.
A Thai garment worker must work for 14,000 years or 38 years to earn your daily salary of US$55,000.
To look at this in reverse, Nike spends the equivalent of 14,000 workers™ salaries to pay you for one day. Even though Nike workers are earning the daily minimum wage, most of them end up working far more than an eight hour day.
Many of them routinely work until 10 pm and sometimes until 2 am to earn overtime pay which they need to make ends meet. Many workers are not paid hourly, but by piece, causing them to stay long hours to finish quotas.
Aside from not earning enough, Nike workers in Thailand face abysmal working conditions. Workers often are not issued proper safety equipment and suffer job injuries.
Thai migrant workers at Nike factories in Taiwan are only permitted to use the bathroom for five minutes per day, leading workers to suffer kidney infections and other health problems.
When workers organize and try to improve these conditions they are harassed or fired. Or worse, the factory closes and shifts to non-union production where wages and benefits are even worse.
For instance, in September the Thai Iryo Garment factory which produced for Nike shut down. Nike shifted production to VT Garment in Sathupradit and Garment Tech factory in Bangkok, neither of which have a union.
Mr. Woods, we ask that you use your influence with Nike to push for the following extremely reasonable requests:
1) Nike must pay the equivalent of a living wage in the countries in which it produces. This living wage must enable a worker to support two dependents and live decently.
2) Nike must allow workers to unionize and provide protection for labour leaders.
3) Nike must take responsibility for conditions in both its factories and subcontracting facilities.
5) Nike must implement its own code of conduct and safety requirements.
Signed, Nikeworkers.org and Thailabour.org

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