Adidas is stealing from its workers.

Textile workers in Cambodia who produced garments for adidas, among other brands, were deprived of an estimated $109 million (USD) in wages in April-May 2021 alone, according to a comprehensive inventory by unions in 114 factories. adidas is linked to the largest wage theft in the factory sample despite high profits during the pandemic.

The losses inflicted on 30,190 workers across eight adidas supplier factories since the beginning of the pandemic adds up to $11.7 million (or $387 per capita).

This wage theft is not confined to Cambodia. The financial fallout from the COVID pandemic has been felt globally and cases of wage and severance theft have increased exponentially since. However wage theft is nothing new in the garment industry. The rights of garment workers have always been violated in favour of profits.

"The industry is built on the exploitation of workers, and companies like adidas have been denying responsibility for workers for decades," says Vivien Tauchmann, coordinator of the #PayYourWorkers campaign. “The problem is systemic and brands must be held accountable for wage and severance theft through a legally-binding agreement.”

The Clean Clothes Campaign Germany (Kampagne für Saubere Kleidung) demand that the company fulfil its responsibility to decisively mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on workers within its supply chain by signing a binding and enforceable agreement on wages, severance pay and freedom of association.

Despite the pandemic, adidas’ revenue increased 15% in 2021 to €21.234 billion (up from €18.435 billion in 2020). In the first quarter of 2021 alone the sporting goods giant earned $650 million in profits. The brand benefitted from short-term tax-funded Covid-19 aid from the government, and adidas and its shareholders have a responsibility to invest a decisive share of the company’s profits to protect workers’ wages and severance. In the wake of the ILO’s Call to Action, and adidas’ public commitment to EU legislation on due diligence, Clean Clothes Campaign Germany expects the company to take a leading role.

Brands have the power to make a difference. Today, campaigners globally will be taking action in support of the workers in adidas' supply chain, and Clean Clothes Campaign Germany will attend adidas’ Annual General Meeting, to call on the company and shareholders to prioritise workers’ rights and ensure that workers in their supply chain are never again deprived of their full wages and severance pay, as part of the #PayYourWorkers campaign.

published 2022-05-12