Leading sporting goods brands including Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Umbro and Speedo are forming a ground-breaking joint working group with trade unions and NGOs to establish better working conditions across the sector.

Issues being tackled include how to promote trade unionism and collective bargaining, as well as improving wages.

The joint group will determine how to prioritise and incentivise union organisation, collective bargaining and social dialogue.

It will also seek to establish a better understanding of how business is done including on manufacturing systems, costings, productivity, and information required for effective contract bargaining and dialogue.

Approaches to contract labour, closure procedures and training for managers and workers will also be developed.

The sporting goods industry is responding to repeated pressure on supplier factory conditions and demands for a living wage from the Play Fair 2008 campaign (PF08), which is campaigning for workers' rights in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games.

Led by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), the ITGLWF (the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation) and the CCC (Clean Clothes Campaign), PF08 released a report 'Clearing the Hurdles' in April this year.

The report identified low wages, abuse of short-term contracts and other forms of
precarious employment, violations of freedom of association, and factory closures due to industry restructuring as the four hurdles the global sporting goods industry needs to overcome.