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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, December 06, 2021

Adidas takes no responsibility for alleged labor violations

Adidas claimed innocence in a statement Thursday, as the university's primary licensing partner responded to allegations of unfair labor practices that provoked demonstrations in November from a UW-Madison student organization that proposed the university to break ties with the company.

The clothing manufacturer sparked anger after an Indonesian factory, called PT Kizone, contracted by Nike and adidas closed abruptly in January, leaving 2,800 employees jobless. The Student Labor Action Coalition claimed the companies legally owed $1.8 million of the

original $3.3 million in severance pay to workers.

But in its statement meeting UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward's Feb. 2 deadline for a response to the allegations, adidas claimed no responsibility.

"The central fact remains that the PT Kizone factory was illegally closed and abandoned by its owner, not by the adidas Group, and this occurred more than six months after we placed our last order with them," adidas said in the statement. "We honored all terms of our contract, paying the factory owners every penny owed."

University officials had no comment Thursday.

While SLAC member Leland Pan said he is happy adidas is doing something, he feels the company is playing down the fact that it has not taken action to pay its workers.

"I feel like it's a reiteration of adidas stalling, claiming they'd do something about it but they haven't really committed to paying the workers their severance," Pan said. "I think it's a sign that the university should go ahead and put adidas on notice and really show that we mean business."

The company further states it has supported those workers rendered jobless by encouraging adidas suppliers near the PT Kizone site to hire former employees to fill open positions at their factories. According adidas, 300 of the 950 former PT Kizone workers have found new employment at other adidas suppliers.

Pan further said adidas claims warrant little validation considering UW-Madison severed ties with Nike for the same allegations two years ago.

"In that instance, Nike was held responsible to assure that they were paid," Pan said. "If adidas wants to go ahead and try to ... get the other stakeholders and licensors with the factory to help them pay, I'm all for it. But ... the workers need to get paid."

SLAC members will protest outside Chancellor Ward's office in Bascom Hall Friday at 10:40 a.m. before the Labor Liscensing Policy Committee meets at 11 a.m. where Ward will respond to adidas's statement.

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