Mlathi: paid below the legal minimum wage for making Adidas shirts in Indonesia

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Mlathi: paid below the legal minimum wage for making Adidas shirts in Indonesia

In 2011, Adidas, the official sportswear sponsor for the London 2012 Games, saw record sales of £10.6 billion. But workers making their goods still aren't getting their fair share of the profits, or having their workplace rights respected. This is Mlathi's story...

Mlathi in her rented room


I'm 36 years old and have been a garment worker for the last nine years. I work in the sewing section at a factory making Adidas shirts.

'I don't have a written contract from the factory, but I'm a permanent member of staff. About 10% of us are permanent, and 90% of workers at the factory are on temporary contracts (1).

'I get paid Rp.1,121,000 (around £82) per month - which is below the legal minimum wage (2). The legal minimum wage in this province is Rp.1,173,250 (around £85). On my wages, I can't afford to buy the food I need to prepare proper nutritious meals. I don't earn enough to pay for decent accommodation either. I rent a room that's 3x4 metres and I share a communal bathroom.

'Workers at my factory can't refuse to work overtime, if we do, supervisors won't offer it to us anymore and we'd end up being sidelined. In terms of benefits, I'm entitled to paid annual leave and maternity leave, but there are no health insurance provisions (3).

'There are three unions in my factory, and I'm a member of the union GARTEKS KSBSI, which has been raising our concerns with my employer.

'I'd sum up my experience of being a garment worker by saying that I cannot always make ends meet, I'm often under pressure at work, and my rights are not fulfilled by the company.'

You can support the struggles of workers like Mlathi for Decent Work by getting involved in the Playfair 2012 campaign and taking the action which calls on Adidas, Nike and Pentland (makers of Speedo) to pay a living wage; respect the right to form/join a union, have no forced overtime, and provide job security.

This interview was carried out by GARTEKS KSBSI for the TUC. The worker did not want her real name to be used.

(1) Yet, according to Adidas, the use of contract workers must be clearly defined and, 'suppliers must not hire workers on a contract basis as a means for depriving such workers of the correct wage and benefits, or other rights and privileges provided to permanent workers,' furthermore, 'suppliers must not hire contract workers on a continuous basis, multiple short-term contracts, or as regular practice, to support normal business needs'. http://www.clearingthehurdles.org/response/b3-adidas

The Playfair 2012 campaign calls on Adidas to severely restrict the use of short-term contracts in its supply chains.

(2) According to Adidas' codes of conduct for suppliers: 'Wages must equal or exceed the minimum wage required by law or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher".

Minimum wages in Indonesia are less than half the amount needed for a worker to live and work in dignity. The Playfair 2012 is calling on Adidas to pay workers making its products a living wage.

(3) For more information: An Overview of Working Conditions in Sportswear Factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka & the Philippines The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (2010)

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