The Guardian September 13, 2000


Fairwear campaign:
Third World sweatshops in our backyard

by Richard Stone

"Wages are about A$2 a day", said Julianto, addressing a packed breakfast 
meeting in Adelaide about NIKE's Indonesian factories. "In Indonesia a 
single person needs at least A$3 a day for basic subsistence."

The breakfast, hosted by the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFU), 
attracted a wide range of supporters, including many from religious and 
community-based organisations and sympathetic South Australian employers.

Julianto's Australian visit was sponsored by Community Aid Abroad as part 
of the Fairwear campaign, which aims to reduce exploitation of casual 
employees and clothing and footwear outworkers throughout Australia and the 
developing world.

Fairwear's South Australian section has developed a strong base in trade 
unions and community organisations.

Most of NIKE's estimated 25,000 Indonesian employees work extremely long 
hours. The Central Java factory where Julianto worked between October 1997 
and April 2000 demanded a 60-70 hour working week.

"There's constant pressure to reach quotas. Punishments are common for 
workers failing to meet targets", said Julianto.

"Accidents are also common. Many people lose fingers in machines."

Despite intimidation from company thugs and goons Julianto managed to 
establish a NIKE workers' committee. "Soldiers, also, are used for this 
type of intimidation", he said.

Speaking about recent Indonesian developments, Julianto stressed the 
importance of the struggle for workers' rights, and spoke firmly about his 
intention to continue this struggle on returning home.

Igor Nossar, TCFU Chief Advocate, spoke about the risks taken by Julianto 
in visiting Australia to publicise the conditions of the Indonesian 
workers.

"We must be mindful of what happens to him and his colleagues when he 
returns to Indonesia", he said.

Igor and Tony Woolgar, TCFU National Secretary, also spoke of the 
exploitation of Australian outworkers. An estimated 300,000 Australian 
outworkers produce brand name products, often under intimidation, with 
wages as low as $2 an hour.

"We have a Third World here in our own backyard", Igor explained.

While acknowledging the real gains made by industrial organisers, he 
stressed the urgent need to reveal the secret manufacturing links which 
begin in Australia and often end in the developing world's sweat-shops.

Rosemary Wallace, a representative of Sheridan Australia, an SA-based 
employer sympathetic to better conditions for workers in the industry and 
the honouring of the established codes of practice, stressed the need to 
maintain a textile manufacturing base within Australia.

Other Fairwear events organised for Julianto included a meeting at Adelaide 
University and a mass demonstration on the corner of King William Street 
and Rundal Mall.

For further information about the Fairwear Campaign and activities 
organised in your locality, contact:

Web site: http://NoSweatShop.org 

Ph: 02 9380 9091 / 03 9251 5200

Back to index page