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... des these living quarters that often times are worse than the average Indonesian village. Double the maximum number of people live in these company dormitories. Around sixty to seventy percent of workers live in these housing projects: Each building consists of a row of rooms, and each room has a door opening out onto a pathway. Each room holds a dozen people and has six bunk beds. Water for washing and bathing is available from outdoor wells.
Drinking water is scarce. Drinking water is provided by the company once in three days. If the water runs out before three days, the workers have to buy more themselves (as cited in Connor & Atkinson, 1996). The dormitories are not the only places to yield horror stories. The AAFLI reported that at several South Korean shoe factories company nurses said that severed fingers are so common that they throw them out in the trash heap. The Observer in London reported in December of 1995 that an interview with a village head in Nikomas revealed that a young woman had collapsed from heat exhaustion in the middle of the day.
Instead of taking her for medical treatment, she was laid out in the workplace mosque. Later when they realized the girl had never regained consciousness, she was then taken to the hospital, where she died. Most of the time workers must go without medical treatment because the company is not willing to pay for health benefits or any type of care. It is quite shocking that such a well-known and well-respected company would take such actions against other human beings. Why arent immediate actions being taken to correct such horrid mistakes by this super company? It seems that Nike's neglect of responsibility is the key to their success.
Nike's own CEO summarized it best, Its not the companys responsibility. We dont pay anybody at the factories and we dont set policy within the factories; it is their business to run (Katz, 1994, p 206). When attacked in the media, Nike has often used this argument (that they arent responsible because they dont employ the workers). But this is not a valid excuse because Nike itself commonly takes the other side of the issue. Phil Knight once said in a 1992 article in his hometown newspaper, The Oregonian: We do accept responsibility for the working conditions in factories we contract with to make our products, and we have tried to upgrade both the quality of life and the skills of the employees working in our factories.
Nike's foreign factories generally offer the highest pay and the best working conditions of any athletic shoe factory in the particular country (Knight, 1992, p 19). This statement is contradictory in many ways. Wages and conditions are approximately equal from factory to factory throughout Asia. Also most of these factories produce several brands at the same time. Therefore one could not distinguish Nike's foreign factories from those of another brand name. Large companies like Nike should learn to take responsibility for all matters involving their products.
Whether or not they hire the workers in these factories, the laborers are making Nike products. Therefore it is Nike's social responsibility to make sure wages and conditions are improved. It would not be extremely expensive or difficult for sneaker companies like Nike to improve workers wages. In the May 3, 1995, issue of the Washington Post, the costs going into a pair of $ 70 Air Pegasus was broken down (see attached table). It was found that only $ 2. 75 or four percent of the price paid by the consumer was the cost of production labor.
Therefore wages for production could be easily increased without adding much cost to the shoes. If wages were doubled and the extra cost was passed straight to the consumer, it would add no more than the cost of a pair of shoelaces. This would be a $ 4 cost on a $ 100 pair of shoes. In actuality, Nike could go as far as quadrupling the wages of workers and not even raise the cost of the shoes $ 10.
Consumers would hardly notice, but it would have a huge impact on Asian workers and their families. Another good idea originates from John Harrington, a California investment manager who oversees a $ 100 million fund of socially responsible companies. Mr. Harrington suggests that Nike solve its problem by doubling the $ 0. 80 a day wages of its Indonesian workers. The money for doubling wages could easily be collected by cutting $ 20 million out of Nike's $ 1. 3 billion advertising budget, or less than two percent of it (McCall, 1998, p 2). Harrington was quoted as saying, I think that the publicity theyd receive from that would be tenfold [the cost of doing it] (McCall, 1998, p 2).
But Harringtons proposal was overwhelming dismissed. Companies such as Nike cannot continue to ignore the exploitation they are carrying out everyday. Despite their minimal attempts to improve conditions in Asian factories, Nike's workforce faces dangerous labor daily for too many hours and not enough pay. The corporation needs to take responsibility for its actions and stop violating human rights. If consumers could develop more of a social conscience and put more pressure on companies like Nike, perhaps more positive actions would be taken. The pressure put on Nike by the media, human rights groups, and consumers has made some small improvements.
More action needs to be taken in this matter in order to stop the suffering in Southeast Asia. Consumers who become more committed to the cause of saving human lives could easily institute a boycott of Nike products to apply more pressure to Nike. Everyone should develop a deeper social conscience pertaining to their purchases and be more aware of what is going into the products they buy. The purchases consumers make effect millions of workers worldwide and their well being. The actions shoppers make to support or attack Nike and other companies like Nike, make all the difference.
When shopping, one should try and remember the thoughts of Dr. Rudell and the people that are effected by their decisions. (Do you know where your purchases were made and under what conditions? ) In the table below, the cost of a US $ 70 pair of Nike Air Pegasus shoes is broken down into its component parts. The data was compiled from research done by the Washington Post newspaper. They used information from Nike, the US Customs Service, a large national retail chain, the Athletic Footwear Association, industry consultants and executives.
All costs are in US dollars. (Washington Post 1995) I found this information at a human rights group page, web Where the money goes How much of it goes there Sales, Distribution, Administration $ 5. 00 Bibliography: Bibliography Atkinson, Jeff and Connor, Tim. (Nov 1996). Just stop it. Community Aid Abroad. [Online Civil Rights Group]. Available: web Becklund, Laurie and Stasser, J. B. (1993). Swoosh: The unauthorized story of Nike and the men who played there.
New York: Harper Business. Bingle, Gina. (1998, Jan 30). Nike's ethics officer will do the right thing. Puget Sound Business Journal, 18, 28 - 31. Coleman, Zach. (1998, Oct 9). Young does follow up on Nike Vietnam factories.
Atlanta Business Chronicle, 21, 41 - 43. Cushman, John. (1998, May 13). International business, Nike pledges to end child labor and apply U. S. laws abroad. New York Times, pD 1.
Dorman, Peter. (1996). Markets and morality: Economics, dangerous work, and the value of human life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Editorial desk. (1998, May 18). Nike's new labor practices. New York Times, pA 18.
Greene, Donna. (1998, Aug 16). Q/A Dr. Frederica Rudell- Shopping with a social conscience. New York Times, pD 1. Katz, Donald. (1994).
Just dont do it: The Nike spirit in the corporate world. Holbrook: Random House. Knight, Phillip. (1998, Aug 1). Global manufacturing.
Vital Speeches of the Day, 64, 637 - 641. Kristof, Nicholas. (1998, Jun 15). Asia's crisis upsets rising effort to confront blight of sweatshops. New York Times, pA 1. McCall, William. (1998, Nov 9). Nike battles backlash from overseas sweatshops.
Marketing News, 32, 14 - 17. Moore, Thomas. (1996). The disposable workforce: Worker displacement and employment instability in America. New York: Walter de Gruyter Inc. No author. (1995, May 3).
Why it costs $ 70 for a pair of athletic shoes. Washington Post.
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