Sporting goods giant Adidas Group says it has "actively" sought to help resolve a dispute at a subcontractor to one of its Indonesian footwear suppliers, even though it had no active business relationship with the factory when around 1,300 workers were dismissed three years ago.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the workers have been seeking reinstatement since they were dismissed by PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa, which also supplies Japanese brand Mizuno, in July 2012. 

Last week, the workers went to the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta with their demands. CCC said just before they were dismissed, 2,000 workers held a strike, demanding the right to freedom of association and a back payment of the legal minimum wage. 

“Adidas and Mizuno have the responsibility to ensure these workers get their jobs and livelihoods back, and until they do so, we will keep demanding our rights,” said Kokom Komalawati, president of the union SBGTS-GSBI.

PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa is a factory of the PT Panarub Group based in Benoa Kota Tangerang, Banten Province. The factory where the violations are said to have occurred was subcontracted to produce sports shoes for Adidas, according to CCC.

Since 2000, five Panarub factories have been involved in labour violations ranging from obstruction of the freedom of association to unequal wages, the campaigners said. 

Adidas has signed the Freedom of Association (FOA) protocol in Indonesia, agreeing to uphold the right to freedom of association at its supplier factories, CCC said, but added the company does not acknowledge that its suppliers' subcontractors need to follow the FOA protocol. Mizuno has not signed the Freedom of Association protocol.

“All this time, Adidas and Mizuno have not brought a solution closer, leaving the workers with no other option but to continue their struggle,” CCC stressed.

However, Adidas has told just-style the workers were treated as having “resigned” when they failed to return to work after an eight-day strike, adding that the brand had no orders with the factory at the time of the dismissals and has "no role to play" in settling the dispute.

However, "despite Adidas having no active business relationship with the factory at the time of the strike, or when the factory was closed a year after the beginning of the dispute, Adidas has actively sought to help the two parties come to an agreement and settle the case," the company said in a statement. 

In October 2012, Adidas suggested that mediation should be considered, to which the parties agreed. But after months of negotiation, it failed to bring about a sustainable solution. The brand said that of the 1,100 workers who originally participated in the strike at PT Panarub's subcontractor PDB, and were deemed to have resigned, 350 workers have not agreed to a financial settlement.

"We have therefore encouraged the union and factory management to continue to engage to resolve this case, or to take the matter to the Industrial Court for adjudication," it noted. "It is our understanding that the union and PDB management are continuing their dialogue."

Mizuno has not yet responded to requests for comment.