20 garment sector unions, Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labour Justice – International Labor Rights Forum have filed a case against NIKE at the US National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct at the US State Department.

The garment sector unions from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka represent workers in Nike’s supply chain at the factory and at sectoral levels.

The case alleges that since the onset of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, garment workers in Nike’s supply chain have experienced layoffs and terminations, arbitrary pay cuts, unpaid wages for hours worked, and gender discrimination at an unprecedented scale.

“Big fashion companies including Nike triggered this crisis when they cancelled orders during March 2020 and reduced new orders en masse in response to economic uncertainty during the initial months of the COVID pandemic,” an announcement from the coalition reads.

AFWA says that according to a survey of over 2,000 of its garment workers, workers lost on average three months of pay during 2020 and many were unable to pay for rent and food without going into debt. The gender pay gap also increased.

Specifically, the case alleges that Nike violated the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct when Nike contributed to conditions for garment workers in its supply chain through its supply chain relationships with its suppliers but did not address and remediate them as required by Chapters II and IV of the OECD Guidelines. The filing also alleges Nike did not engage with garment worker unions representing Nike supply chain workers about those impacts, despite the OECD Guidelines’ expectation that multinational enterprises do so and despite unions’ requests for dialogue.

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The organisations are now calling for Nike to remedy the failings, which would include e-compensation where appropriate for workers’ lost wages during Covid, a pause on buybacks and dividends until workers are paid, and a joint strategy for ensuring garment workers in Nike’s supply chain work under decent work conditions and earn living wages, which would have mitigated impacts on workers had they been in effect during the Covid period.

Nike did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.

Last week, several fashion brands including Nike were urged to take responsibility for garment workers in Sri Lanka, after it was revealed they had not been receiving the Emergency Relief Allowances meant to alleviate the country’s current economic crisis.