The Global Forum for Sustainable Supply Chains will today (23 October) convene a multi-stakeholder meeting of companies, international institutions and insurance experts to discuss the possible creation of a private fund or insurance product that would provide support to garment workers affected by factory closures and non-payment of wages and benefits. 

The meeting, taking place in Switzerland, has been driven by Adidas and will explore solutions to problems facing workers who do not receive the severance pay and benefits owed by their employers when a factory shuts down.

However, Adidas has faced criticism from labour union groups and others over its approach to worker rights following the non-payment of severance to workers at a former Indonesian supplier factory.

Last month, Cornell University said it was ending its eight-year contract with the sporting goods firm after PT Kizone shut down unexpectedly in April 2011, leaving 2,800 workers without outstanding severance pay totalling $1.8m.

For its part, Adidas said it has fully honoured its contractual obligations at the plant, and "will not accept nor assume the financial duties of the former PT Kizone owner and pay severance to the workers, as some labour groups and business partners have asked us to do."

Instead, it says it has provided food and humanitarian aid for the workers, and helped some find new jobs with Adidas Group suppliers - despite doing no business with the factory for nearly six months prior to its closure.

However today, anti-sweatshop campaigners moved to condemn the summit, saying the event is  "fundamentally flawed" and an "empty rhetorical gesture" as workers in Indonesia that made Adidas products have been waiting for severance payments for over a year.

Representatives of ex-workers from PT Kizone said the meeting was an attempt to"distract from the fact that Adidas is still refusing to pay us US$1.8m that we earned while producing apparel for adidas"

Liz Parker, from the Clean Clothes Campaign, said: "By organising a summit to develop a long-term solution Adidas appears to be trying to prove that it is behaving responsibly towards the workers that make its products, but it is not paying the Kizone workers what they're owed. This should be the first step to take."