Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nike: Underage workers?

Recent reports from China indicate workers at the Longfa Shoe Factory in China’s south eastern Guangdong province are underage. Further it has been alleged officials switched their identification papers to make them seem older when members of China’s largely Muslim Uyghur ethnic group were sent to work in a shoe factory thousands of miles from home. The facility currently employs 660 workers through a program known as “Transfer Surplus Workforce Outwards.” More than half of the workers are female, and some 300 are under the age of 18. Longfa Shoe Factory is owned by Taiwan-based Dean Shoes Co. Ltd., which supplies Oregon-based U.S. footwear giant Nike, Inc. The legal working age in China is 16 but according to Nike’s code of conduct, their contractors do not “employ any person below the age of 18 to produce footwear” and to hire underage workers would violate company policies. Both companies have denied the allegations.

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