USA: Anti-Sweatshop Protestors On The Road Against Nike
Behindthelabel.org, the student anti-sweatshop campaign, reaches the end of the its 4,000 mile 13 day tour on Wednesday, when it will conclude its crusade in Beaverton, Ore, home of main target Nike.The 10-strong group has stopped off at a number of places along the way. Last Thursday, they tried to hang banners off the railings in a Nike store in midtown Manhattan. Security guards, however, ensured that only one of the four signs was displayed. Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate for president of the US invited the protestors to spend a few minutes with him in Washington, D.C., last week. The group will be visiting stadiums and Nike retail stores in an attempt to spread what it considers the truth about working conditions in sweatshops from Indonesia to El Salvador. CEO Phil Knight refuses to accept the charges against Nike - that it underpays and overworks its labourers, and silences voices that speak against it. In an open letter to the protestors, which is published on the Nike website, he has written: "It is our understanding… that these rallies are designed to force Nike to adopt specific human rights policies and to raise standards for the athletic goods industry."If this is indeed your goal - to raise awareness for higher wages, eliminate child labour and create better working conditions - we have long since agreed with you. We've already implemented these policies and acted upon them." The letter goes on to list the changes in working conditions that have been implemented over the past two years, from a 70 per cent increase in wages for Indonesian footwear workers to signing the UN-sponsored Global Compact, a human rights initiative. Mr Knight concludes: "You have focused on the right issue but on the wrong company." For more information, visit
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