JAKARTA, July 16 (Reuters) - Several thousand Indonesian workers staged a noisy protest outside the Jakarta offices of Nike on Monday over a move by the U.S. sportswear firm to phase out orders at two factories near the capital.
The demonstrators, who carried banners saying “Nike is a Blood-sucking Vampire” and “Go To Hell Nike”, caused huge congestion in the central business district.
The U.S. firm said in a statement it remained committed to Indonesia, explaining its move to cut orders at the two contractors that employ 14,000 workers was due to quality issues.
“Nike has been sourcing in Indonesia since 1989 and remains fully committed to growing our sourcing base over time,” Erin Dobson, Nike’s director for corporate responsibility communications, said in a statement.
Nike said it would cease orders at the factories owned by Central Cipta Murdaya (CCM) — PT Hardaya Aneka Shoes Industry and Nagasakti Paramashoes Industry — at the end of 2007.
It said the move was “based on business performance issues related to their consistent inability to meet company’s minimum product quality and delivery standard for two years”.
Siti Hartati Murdaya, president director of Central Cipta Murdaya, said the firm met Nike’s standards.
“Only two percent of our products are defective. Other companies can reach up to 18 percent.”
“This unfair decision will put 14,000 people out of work which is simply unethical.”
Sutarti, a union leader, said Nike had halved the usual order of shoes at both factories this month and urged the firm to resume the orders or pay severance money.
“We want Nike to continue the orders like they have in the past 18 years,” said the union leader, her voice amplified by speakers piled up on the back of a truck.
“What about our families? Food vendors outside the factories? People who live from renting out rooms to workers?.”
Nike said it would work with unions to help workers with their legal rights and other employment if needed.
Nike and other global sports brands have previously come under pressure from rights groups over the treatment of staff in Asian factories subcontracted to produce their sports shoes.
The protesters, who had demanded to speak to Nike’s country representative, at one stage threatened to storm the offices.
But several trucks of police and security guards prevented them from entering the building, which also houses the Jakarta Stock Exchange.
The company said in its statement more than 115,000 Indonesian workers were employed making Nike products currently.
Nike said that last year over 50 million pairs of Nike shoes, 17 million units of Nike apparel, and 12 million pieces of Nike equipment were made in contract factories in Indonesia.