Report: Puma Makers in China Work in Sweatshop Conditions
NEW YORK — Employees making Puma sneakers in a Chinese factory operated by a company contractor are forced to work as long as 100 hours a week in sweatshop conditions and live in rooms housing as many as 12 people, according to a report released...
NEW YORK — Employees making Puma sneakers in a Chinese factory operated by a company contractor are forced to work as long as 100 hours a week in sweatshop conditions and live in rooms housing as many as 12 people, according to a report released Thursday by two nonprofit groups that campaign for workers’ rights.
The workers at the Pou Yuen manufacturing plant are paid the equivalent of 35 cents an hour, the National Labor Committee and China Watch said.
“With the lifting of quotas in China in 2005, these are critical times,’’ Charles Kernaghan, director of the labor committee, said in an interview. “China’s going to dominate. We have to get workers’ rights and [better] wages.”
Puma did not return calls for comment.
Kernaghan, in a letter faxed to Puma chairman and chief executive officer Jochen Zeitz urged that wages be boosted by 20 cents an hour, overtime be made voluntary, dormitory conditions improved and the factory’s cafeteria food made palatable. He also called for an end to verbal abuse of workers.
“When you look at Puma’s Code of Conduct, it reads so well that frankly I was shocked by the conditions in the factory report,’’ Kernaghan said.
Using documents provided by factory workers, Kernaghan calculated that Puma makes a gross profit of $34.09 for every $70 pair of sneakers. Increasing hourly wages by 20 cents would result in a 54 cent increase to the retail price of $70 sneakers, he said.
“If they took the necessary steps, they would be applauded across the country,” Kernaghan said. “We’re not going to get freedom of association overnight. But there is overwhelming fear and repression there. They can correct the overtime and no hot water.”
For the three months ended June 30, the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based branded global manufacturer reported a 48.3 percent jump in net income to 54.9 million euros, or 3.33 euros a diluted share, compared with 37 million euros, or 2.26 euros a diluted share, a year ago. In dollars, Puma had profits of $66.2 million, or $4.01 a share, compared with $42 million, or $2.57, last year. Figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the corresponding periods.— Rosemary Feitelberg