I wasn’t aware that Made in Malaysia might mean made by imported, forced labor. The story below shows Bangladeshi workers crammed together. Their passports are confiscated and they earn $5 per day.
Look, if $5 per day is at or above the average wage, I don’t have a problem with it. But every worker should have the right to go to their employer and say, “take this job and shove it!” When an employer confiscates passports and manages to workout relationships in which the employee owes them, that’s slavery and it needs to be stopped.
This story’s heart is in the right place, but it’s reporting is a bit thin. I would have liked to see a few more questions answered:
Bangladeshi workers weighed their options and chose to come to Malaysia. Why?
When was the last time Nike had visited this factory? Do they inspect the factory? Are they working with the factory to right these wrongs or are they just turning their back on them?
My point is that instead of wagging our collective morally superior finger at Nike, we should encourage them to do better. Like it or not, the lives of the workers piecing together our Nike’s aren’t going to get better unless Nike takes action.
We need to advance the dialogue beyond talks of sweatshops. Stories like this encourage Nike to be less transparent. No doubt there is a Nike factory somewhere that is providing jobs that feed and clothe families and educate children. Let’s see a story about that factory.
Media Awards states, “This report shamed Nike into action. Nike has now released these workers as well as 7,700 others across Malaysia. It has returned recruitment fees and passports and has begun repatriating workers back to their home countries.”
I would like to see a follow up on this story interviewing some of the repatriated workers. No doubt they are probably in the Bangladeshi garment industry earning $6 per week.