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Walking Ghosts Who Work in Satan's factory

Community Aid Abroad - April 4, 1997

New report reveals "worst conditions yet" in Nike contractor's factory.

"It's the most disturbing report we've seen so far," Community Aid Abroad spokesperson Tim Connor said today, speaking of Australian academic Peter Hancock's new report on working conditions in Nike-producing factories in Banjaran in West Java, Indonesia. "There have been several reports on Nike-producing factories near Jakarta, and the conditions there are bad enough," he said. "Peter has spent several months interviewing workers in an extremely remote area and the situation there is nothing short of abhorrent. It seems the less likely it is that researchers will visit, the less concern Nike and its contractors pay to human rights." Hancock's report reveals that that in Nike contractor Feng Tay's factory in Banjaran:

  • Supervisors had been trained in the systematic abuse of women workers using the Indonesian equivalent of phrases such as "Fuck you!" and "Move you stupid bitch!"
  • The average work day is 11.5 hours and 81% of workers work seven days a week.
  • Workers who take sick leave are dismissed instantly, irrespective of whether they have a doctor's certificate. This puts pressure on them to work in these extreme conditions even when they are sick. In one case a woman fainted on the job, was not taken to the medical clinic and later died.
  • The average age of workers is 16 and 41% of workers surveyed were under 16 when they first started working (one was only 11 when she started at the factory).

The title of the report, "Nike's Satanic Factories in West Java", comes from an Indonesian villager. Hancock writes, "I arrived in the old man's village at about 8pm to survey factory workers. I asked him where I could find women who worked for Feng Tay (Nike's contractor). He replied that they had not returned since leaving at 4am the previous morning. He told me the women from Feng Tay were called 'Walking Ghosts who work in Satan's factory' and if I wanted to speak with them I would have to become a ghost myself."

Hancock's report comes hot on the heels of a much publicised report on the weekend by US group Vietnam Labor Watch on conditions faced by Vietnamese workers making Nikes. Community Aid Abroad is campaigning for the protection of the basic human rights of workers who make Nikes.