Up to 6,800 workers at a company that makes sports shoes for Nike staged a protest rally on Tuesday after turning up for work yesterday to discover their factory closed and its gates welded shut.

Furious employees of PT Doson Indonesia were stunned to discover the plant had been shut down without any of them being told. Nike is due to terminate its contract with the firm in November.

Thousands of workers from the plant in the Legok district of Tangerang regency today staged a rally in protest at the closure outside the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration Office.

Chairman of the Indonesia Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Union, Joko Haryono, told the Jakarta Post that the first many workers knew about the closure was when their courtesy buses failed to turn up on Monday morning.

"All the workers came to the factory using public transportation," he said. "We tried to contact both PT Doson Indonesia HRD manager Mohammad Banjir Iqbal and general manager Candra Handoko, whom we believe had knowledge of the factory closure, but their cellular phones were switched off."

Nike said earlier this year it planned to end production at the plant as it considers joining other foreign firms in relocating to Vietnam and China where productivity is higher and wages are lower.

Speaking last month, Jeff DuMont, general manager of Nike Inc Indonesia, said: "We understand the concerns of Doson Indonesia workers and we have emphasised to the management of Doson Indonesia our expectation that they meet all their obligations to the employees in the event that layoffs occur."

His company also pointed out that despite the job cuts it will continue to work with 47 other factories in Indonesia that employ around 123,000 workers.