FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why I Rejected the Reebok Human Rights Award

by Dita Sari

The driving forces of globalisation are the movement and expansion of capital and technology, through multinational companies. Globalisation, some people argue, has contributed a lot to the creation of a new world, with a global welfare and justice for all.

But in practice, globalisation is producing neither universal welfare nor global peace. On the contrary, in reality, globalisation has divided the world into two sides, which are antagonistic towards each other. There are wealthy creditors and bankrupt debtors, there are super rich countries and underdeveloped countries, super wealthy speculators and impoverished malnourished children. Globalisation intensifies, not a higher paid and a better life for workers in the third world, but the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

And this also happens in Indonesia, among Indonesian workers who work in multinational shoes companies, including Reebok.

In November last year, I was informed that I was selected as one of the awardees of the annual Reebok Human Rights Award program and ceremony. The Reebok Human Rights Foundation then has officially announced the names of the awardees.

I have taken this award into a very deep consideration. We finally decide not to accept this. On the one hand, this is a kind of recognition of the struggle and the hard work that we have done for years. But on the other hand, we are very conscious of the condition of the Reebok workers from the third world countries, such as in Indonesia, Mexico, China, Thailand, Brazil and Vietnam. As a trade union, we strongly put a lot of pressure to achieve what every worker deserves: higher wages, better working conditions and a brighter future for their children.

In Indonesia, there are five Reebok companies. 80% of the workers are women. All companies are sub-contracted, often by the South Korean companies such as Dung Jo and Tong Yang. Since the workers can only get around $1.5 a day, they then have to live in a slum area, surrounded by poor and unhealthy conditions, especially for their children. At the same time, Reebok collected millions of dollars of profit every year, directly contributed by these workers.

The low pay and exploitation of the workers of Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam are the main reasons why we will not accept this award. Some of our members in the union work in companies producing Reebok shoes.

The decision I have made is not merely based on data, report, statistics or assumptions. In 1995, I was arrested and tortured by the police, after leading a strike of 5000 workers of Indoshoes Inti Industry. They demanded an increase of their wages (they were paid only US$1 for working 8 hours a day), and maternity leave as well. This company operated in West Java, and produced shoes of Reebok and Adidas. I have seen for my self how the company treat the workers, and used the police to repress the strikers.

We believe that accepting the award is not a proper or a right thing to do. This is part of the consequences of our work to help workers improve their life. We cannot tolerate the way multinational companies treat the workers of the third world countries. And we surely hope that our stand can make a contribution to help changing the labor condition in Reebok-produced companies.

Dita Sari is an organizer with the National Front for Workers Struggle in Jakarta, Indonesia.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail