Blog: Leonie BarrieChina factories concern Nike

Leonie Barrie | 17 March 2008

Not only are the costs of manufacturing in China soaring, but falsified documents, underage workers and unpaid wages are still hampering the country’s progress according to a new report from Nike.

The world’s largest sports clothing and footwear maker says China is its biggest supplier country, where it works with some 180 manufacturers and about 210,000 employees. And it chose to focus on China in its first country-specific supply chain report ahead of the upcoming Beijing Olympics this summer.

But the findings are particularly alarming given that China is widely thought to have one of the top social compliance regimes in the industry, boosted by a new labour contract law introduced at the beginning of this year.

Nike is widely recognised as one of the industry’s leaders when it comes to improving labour conditions in the factories where its products are made. Back in April 2005 the company scored a sector first by publishing a list of the names and locations of its 715 suppliers as part of a larger effort to increase the transparency of its operations.

The move was intended to not only bring greater visibility to industry-wide conditions but also to support collaborative efforts to resolve labour, health and safety challenges in contract factories.

The big question now must be whether the issues uncovered by Nike are simply snags as the country continues to evolve, or a sign that progress in social compliance is going to be a long, winding road.

Nike reports on problems in China supply chain


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