Garment workers in Nike’s supply chain are demanding unpaid wages after the company cancelled orders during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, triggering a crisis that left many workers without income. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), workers lost an average of three months' pay during the pandemic, leaving many unable to cover basic needs such as rent and food.
The situation was particularly dire for female workers, who make up the majority of Nike's workforce. The gender pay gap increased as a result of the crisis, compounding the difficulties faced by already vulnerable workers.
The allegations against Nike are serious, and could have significant implications for the company's reputation. The Specific Instance alleges that Nike violated the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct, which require multinational enterprises to address and remediate human rights abuses in their supply chains.
The filing alleges that Nike contributed to conditions for garment workers in its supply chain, but failed to address and remediate them as required by the Guidelines. It also claims that Nike did not engage with garment worker unions representing its supply chain workers, despite their requests for dialogue.
The submitting organizations are demanding that Nike compensate workers for lost wages during the pandemic, and develop a joint strategy with unions to ensure that workers in its supply chain earn living wages and work under decent conditions. They are also calling for a pause on buybacks and dividends until workers are paid.
If the US National Contact Point (NCP) approves the complaint, Nike will be invited to engage in dialogue with the unions about their demands. If Nike refuses to engage in dialogue, the NCP can issue recommendations to the company about its treatment of garment workers in its supply chain.
This case highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability in the fashion industry, and underscores the importance of the OECD Guidelines in promoting responsible business conduct. Companies must take responsibility for the human rights abuses that occur in their supply chains, and work with unions and other stakeholders to ensure that workers are treated fairly and with dignity. For the latest information on sneakers, clothing, and collectibles and to stay up to date with the latest drops, connect with us on Instagram and Twitter.
Images via Global Labor Justice