FACTORY FUROR: Adidas has rebutted a report published Thursday in Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper that Chinese factory workers making the new Yeezy Boost 350 V2 sneakers are underpaid and working too many hours.
The newspaper had teamed with the U.S.-based China Labor Watch, a New York-based NGO that aims to defend workers’ rights in China, on an investigation into labor practices at the Apache Footwear factory in the province of Guangdong.
The Mirror pointed out that while workers may be earning more than the minimum wage, their monthly pay of 147 pounds, or $184, is less than a pair of Yeezy Boost sneakers, which cost 150 pounds, or $187, at current exchange.
The paper said employees are forced to work overtime to make ends meet, with many clocking 10 hour shifts, six days a week. The story said the factory also demands that workers arrive 15 minutes before their shifts begin, so they can “sing the company song and attend production meetings.”
In a lengthy reply to WWD, Adidas said it is “fully committed to protecting worker rights and to ensuring fair and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain.”
Adidas added that Yeezy shoes are produced by Apache in Guangdong and Ching Luh in Fujian, and the average monthly take-home wage of production workers in those facilities is more than double the minimum wage in the regions.
The German company also clarified that take-home wage consists of the monthly wage plus benefits such as performance bonuses, meal allowance, living allowance and seniority bonus.
It said the numbers reported in the headline of Daily Mirror’s article were calculated by the journalist and were inaccurate and misleading.
“We only conduct business with overseas manufacturers who work in a fair, honest and responsible manner. We have strict procedures in place to ensure that the individuals employed to make Adidas products are paid and treated fairly.
“We also seek business partners who progressively raise employee living standards through improved wage systems, benefits, welfare programs and other services that enhance quality of life. Furthermore, all factories that work with us are subject to regular labor and health and safety audits conducted by independent third parties in association with the Fair Labor Associationand Adidas’ compliance team,” Adidas said.
The company said its workplace standards code of conduct is based on International Labour Organization and United Nations conventions and that it follows the International Labour Organization’s standards on maximum working hours, or the local law, if lower.