Yesterday at 11:00 AM in Guangzhou, China, five factory workers marched in to the local Adidas office. The workers of Taiwanese-owned Dynamic Casting demanded that Adidas put a stop to the severe workplace injuries at their plant and pay fair compensation to those already suffering. The workers manufacture golf clubs for Adidas' TaylorMade golf brand.
The worker activists weren't alone. At the same time in Hong Kong and Taiwan, labor unions and other supporters held their own protests. The activists hold Adidas responsible for a disturbing pattern of benzene poisoning, lung disease, deafness and Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) at Dynamic Casting as well as Xingang Shoe Company in Dongguan. The demonstrations followed Friday's action by Adidas workers in Indonesia, which highlighted these two cases as well as their own case: the firing of 1,600 at Adidas soccer boot supplier PT Panarub Dwikarya for striking over the failure to pay the new minimum wage.
The protest in Taiwan (pictured above) took on special meaning. Dynamic Precision — parent to the Guangzhou company — has announced plans to return its operations to Taiwan, cutting and running in the face of workers' demand for fair compensation on the mainland. There, labor groups including Taiwan Youth Labor Union 95 and the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries held signs reading, "The bad fish swims back to victimize workers in Taiwan," urging the public to refuse Dynamic Precision from bringing its dangerous working conditions back across the strait the divides Taiwan from the mainland.
The protest in at the Adidas Hong Kong headquarters (pictured at right) brought together the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU), Globalization Monitor, ITUC/GUF Hong Kong Liaison Office (IHLO), Labor Education and Service Network (LESN), Student and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), Labour Action China (LAC), Worker Empowerment (WE), Left21, and China Labor Net. The coalition of groups took Adidas to task for failing to take responsibility for the basic safety of workers toiling at its contract factories.
Hong Kong-based Globalization Monitor has documented 110 cases of workers at Dynamic Casting who suffered from Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and other serious occupational diseases due to a deplorable lack of safety measures in the plant.
Last September, Globalization Monitor revealed documents showing management raised the factory's machines over the legal maximum speed to squeeze out the most production volume possible, at the expense of workers' long-term health.
In coordination with yesterday's protests, last Friday 200 Adidas workers protested at the brand's office in Jakarta, Indonesia. See: PT Panarub Dwikarya workers protest for their rights and for all Adidas workers