In a workers’ rights victory, a factory manufacturing Nike products in Indonesia has been ordered to pay its workers more than $1 million in back wages for unpaid overtime. The 4,500 workers of the PT Nikomas plant in Bantan, Indonesia, will be compensated for more than 600,000 hours of unpaid overtime over the last two years (though some of the workers say they haven’t received overtime in 18 years, Indonesian law only allows claims to go back two years). The settlement could spell big changes in the way that sweatshop laborers are treated — and paid.
That’s because labor advocates see the Nike settlement as setting a precedent for increased workers’ rights claims. “This has the potential to send shockwaves through the Indonesian labor movement,” said Bambang Wirahyoso, national chairman of the trade union Serikat Pekerja National. “We have only just begun.” Wirahyoso alluded to additional potential cases that might be brought against other companies with factories in the country, where operating on a 7-day-a-week production schedule is standard. Workers at the plant also complained of being forced to pay bribes to gain jobs and being subjected to verbal abuse from supervisors.
Nike, who was not named directly in the suit, said it “commends the factory on their action plan and efforts to correct inadequacies in current policies designed to protect the rights of workers. Nike will continue to monitor and support their efforts to remediate the situation.” [Guardian UK]