On Feb. 5, the independent monitoring group Verite sent a five-person team to begin its monitoring assignment at Kukdong. On Feb. 9, Verite completed the on-site portion of its investigation, and we expect the written report to be completed this week.
Apart from the monitoring report, I am pleased to inform you of several developments that have recently taken place, which we believe address many of the concerns members of the University community have expressed to us. In conversations with Nike, the factory management, in concert with the CROC union (which represents the Kukdong workers) has agreed to do the following:
Reinstatement of Workers, Wages and Seniority
Factory management has increased its efforts to immediately reinstate all workers formerly employed with the factory who have chosen to come back to work. Kukdong management and the union have employed several tactics, such as fliers in Spanish, telegrams and face-to-face visits, to invite workers back to the factory without question or fear of retaliation, regardless of their role in the work stoppage.
Kukdong has also extended its previously stated Feb. 2 deadline, which required all workers to return to work or face being replaced by new hires.
Returning employees will be reinstated with the same seniority, wage, Christmas bonus and vacation time, all of which are retroactive starting Jan. 1, In addition, returning workers will receive a wage increase that was the result of a recently negotiated annual collective bargaining agreement, which is also retroactive. Workers who elected to receive a cash severance at the time of the work stoppage will also be welcomed back to the factory with the same benefits, but a one-time deduction will be made from their holiday bonus to compensate for the severance payment.
Workers Allegedly Fired for Illegal Work Stoppage
The factory intends to rehire the original five workers who initiated the work stoppage and has made a formal written request that charges be dropped against the workers in connection with the events of January. This request is currently under review by the presiding judge handling this case. Nike will keep you informed of the judge's ruling concerning this matter.
ILO Training and Freedom of Association
During the week of Feb. 5, Kukdong conducted a training to educate workers about the existing collective bargaining agreement with the CROC union, including the changes resulting from the annual negotiation process (completed in January). In addition, the factory sent a letter, co-signed by the CROC union, to the Mexico City office of the International Labor Organization, which will also conduct training sessions for factory workers. These trainings will address freedom of association and collective bargaining to provide workers with a neutral, non-hostile environment to independently learn about their options and rights in accordance with local Mexican law.
The ILO training sessions will be held when all the workers who have chosen to do so return to the factory and when both CROC and the ILO are available. Once all workers have received training, they can choose to hold an election for a new union. Nike wishes to reiterate that it is the workers' choice to elect a new union and that all parties involved must respect their rights to hold such elections in accordance with Mexican law and regulations.
Nike has worked collaboratively with Reebok, Arturo Alcalde (representing both the Fair Labor Association and the International Labor Rights Fund) and other parties to help achieve the progress to date and to identify infrastructure issues for review and remediation through the Verite process. Further, we are committed to taking action based on Verite's report to ensure that Kukdong provides a fair, safe and healthy work environment for the men and women working there.
No factory is perfect, and we believe in continuous improvement of all our workplaces. In the past two years, we have taken steps such as raising age and wage requirements within our factory partners (with the average age of footwear workers currently at 21), improved air quality to U.S. OSHA equivalent levels, and shared best practices with our own internal monitors, independent monitors and knowledgeable third parties. We have also provided workers with extra benefits such as micro-credit for small businesses and education programs at their work sites.
Please visit our Web site at http://www.nikebiz.com for more details and the most current information about Nike's corporate responsibility programs.
Vada O. Manager is the director of Global Issues Management for Nike.
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