New Zealand Herald: Adidas jersey makers paid under $100pw

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher

By Kieran Nash
14 August 2011

Workers sewing the adidas All Blacks jerseys are paid less than $100 a week - yet each jersey is sold for a recommended $220 in New Zealand.

The jerseys are made by the Bowker Yee Sing Garment Factory (He Yuan) Co Ltd, in the city of Heyuan in Guangzhou Province. The 14,100sq m factory employs 2400 staff, half of whom sleep in dormitories.

A workers' rights organisation, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, plans to investigate the factory before it begins producing uniforms for the London Olympics next year.

In the past week adidas has been the target of a public outcry over the price of its All Blacks replica jersey.

Retailers had to dig into their own margins after the original $220 sale price was decried as being too expensive. The jerseys can be bought overseas for half as much.

The Herald on Sunday wanted to compare the sale price with what it cost to make, but adidas New Zealand's country manager David Huggett was not available for comment. After inquiries, however, a spokeswoman provided the pay details of the factory workers in a written statement.

The average monthly take-home pay for a Bowker worker is 2118 renminbi, about $400, including overtime. Over a 40-hour week, this would be, at most $2.30, an hour.

That was the average for factory floor workers and did not include management. And she said: "All of our business partners must ensure that employees' wages equal or exceed the minimum wage required by law or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher, and legally mandated benefits must be provided."

Labour rights organisation China Labour Bulletin spokesman Geoffrey Crothall said the wages were enough to live on day-to-day, but not by much.

"Inflation is quite high, especially for food. You're not going to get much change out of 2000 yuan a month."

There is no collective bargaining agreement, but Bowker workers are able to join the local national trade union.

Yesterday, 15 members of the anti-capitalist Socialist Aotearoa burned a large adidas sign outside Eden Park.

Spokesman Joe Carolan said there were "three stripes" to the protest - the high cost of the jersey, labour conditions overseas, and the commercialisation of sport. "A lot of people are outraged at the high cost of the jersey but not a lot of people know about the low cost to make it."
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