Participants at the signing of the protocol

Participants at the signing of the protocol

Manufacturers and brands including Adidas, Nike and Puma have signed a pact with textile, clothing and footwear unions that strengthens rights for workers in Indonesian sportswear factories.  

The agreement, described as "historic" by the parties involved, will allow workers to organise and carry out union activities at sportswear supplier factories.

The move comes after recent research by the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) found 18 factories in Indonesia has all had taken anti-union measures.

"This protocol is important because our law does not cover technical implementation of freedom of association," said Lilis Mahmudah, head of program for SPN, the Indonesian trade union that signed the protocol. "It also ensures brands take responsibility to ensure respect for union rights."

"Our members have been waiting for this agreement to be concluded. It will help us in our bargaining efforts," added Emelia Yanti, general secretary of GSBI, another union that helped negotiate the deal.

Also backing the initiative are Oxfam Australia, the ITGLWF, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), and the Play Fair campaign, which since 2004 has been campaigning for global sportswear brands to take concrete steps to improve conditions in their supply chains.

"The signing of this freedom of association protocol is an important first step in improving the situation for the hundreds of thousands of sportswear workers facing low wages and poor conditions," says Jeroen Merk of the CCC.

"The real test, however, will be in its implementation" adds Ashling Seely of the ITGLWF.

In the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics the Play Fair Campaign will be encouraging other sportswear and garment brands to sign up to the protocol.

The Protocol on Freedom of Association can be found here.