Factories in Bangladesh producing sportswear for Olympic sponsors Adidas, Nike and Puma have been accused of beating, verbally abusing, underpaying and overworking their staff, according to an investigation by War on Want.

A report released today (5 March) claims that workers for all three companies had been physically abused, with two-thirds of workers from one Puma supplier saying they had been beaten, slapped, pushed or had their hair pulled by their managers.

The report said one in ten women had either been forced or threatened with being made to undress in the workplace, with a further one in ten saying they had experienced other forms of sexual harassment.

It claims that the lowest paid Adidas workers were earning a basic salary of GBP0.72 (US$1.14) a day, less than the minimum wage of around GBP0.95 per day. The average salary for workers for all three companies averaged GBP1.18 a day.

It said that 30-40% of workers' total pay was made up through overtime. The average worker's total pay including overtime was BDT5,600 (US$68.5) per week, equating to 16p per hour.

"[London 2012 Olympics chair] Lord Coe has called the Games ‘a powerful lever of change, improving lives across the world'. Yet this research shows the appalling abuses committed by a company the Games have endorsed," said War on Want sweatshops campaigner Murray Worthy.

"The world they must demand that their official partners respect basic human rights, wherever they operate. We hope they will make clear that they believe these conditions are completely unacceptable."

Responding to the claims, Adidas said that it is not sourcing products for the Olympics from Bangladesh.

It added that it regularly monitors its suppliers, and since 2006 has retained the services of a women's NGO in Bangladesh to interview workers and independently report on their concerns and issues.

"We are deeply concerned by the allegations which have been made in the Race to the Bottom report and we have mobilised a team of labour specialists to investigate these claims," it said. 

"Our preliminary findings do point to some verbal harassment, but we have been unable to corroborate any claims of physical abuse. Our investigations are not conclusive and are continuing.

"We have also reached out to War on Want to ask them to provide us with their factory-specific findings, so that we can review and address each of their concerns.

"Our first priority is to safeguard workers from any situation where they are subject to abusive behaviour and to uphold our commitment to ensure that all legal entitlements are met, in full, including wages and limits to working hours."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Nike said that it is investigating the claims. "Nike takes working conditions in our contract factories very seriously. All Nike suppliers must adhere to our Code of Conduct. We are investigating the allegations set forth in the report and will be working with the contract factories to address any violations of our Code immediately," a Nike spokesperson told just-style.

Puma has not yet responded to requests for comment.