Comparison of the Urban Community Mission (UCM) Survey Report December 1999 to the Global Alliance, Center for Societal Development Studies (CSDS) 2000 study.*

 

By David M. Boje, Ph.D.

2001

Academics Studying the Global Apparel Industry

New Mexico State University

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary
Part I - Introduction to the Two Studies
Part II - Some Key Study Differences
Part III - Verbal Physical and Sexual Abuse
Part IV - Wages
Conclusions
References
Appendix - Demographics

*Note: I would like to thank Jeff Ballinger for his helpful comments on this essay.

Executive summary

This is the first comparative study to contrast the Global Alliance (GA) 2001 Center for Societal Development Studies (CSDS) study of Nike’s Indonesia factory working conditions to that of a study Urban Community Mission (UCM) conducted in 1999. After giving a brief overview of each study, I will compare some of the key differences in the two studies. I conclude that the studies have some amazing similarities. Both studies interviewed 4,000 workers, many in the same Nike factories. There are 53,810 Nike workers in Indonesia (CSDS, 2001, Section 1: 2)  Both studies indicate that most workers migrate from parts of Java to escape extreme poverty. Both studies report that most workers stay at work for three years and leave. Both studies found significant occurrences of various forms of abuse, but here the similarity diverges. My analysis suggests that both studies indicate convincingly that factories producing for Nike in Indonesia are still characterized by abusive direct supervisors, inadequate wages, and forced overtime.  The purpose of my study is to compare working conditions found by GA (CSDS) to those found by UCM, as well as to contrast the Nike working conditions with those of the two BATA factories. Nike has put considerable dollar resources into promoting the idea that it has reformed its earlier labor practices in response to the global anti-sweatshop campaign. But, has this money been well spent.  The UCM study allowed workers to "voice" their concerns in seven open-ended questions, collected by workers trained in the mysterious arts and sciences of interviewing and data collection.  The number one concern of the Nike eleven Nike factories surveyed is "compulsory and non-stop overtime." Yet, with the scores of questions asked by the GA (CSDS) study, there was not room for this question; not room, as we shall see, after Nike's corporate staff took editorial control over the questionnaire (editing in and out various questions), the training of the data-collectors, and spliced in their own remedial plan into the report of findings on both the Nike and Global Alliance web sites. In short, the less expensive UCM study seems to have produced results that have more face validity, since they allow the workers to openly voice their concerns. 

 

PART I. Introducing the Two Studies

Urban Community Mission (UCM) of Jakarta was established in 1983 by the Java District of the HKBP Church. UCM aims to assist people to face the challenges of rapid industrialization and urbanization in large cities like Jakarta  - in particular the impact of these processes on the working lives of urban factory workers, many of whom have recently made the transition from rural village life interviewed 4,000 workers from 13 factories (2,300 from 5 sport shoe factories producing for Nike; 1,200 from 6 clothing factories producing for Nike and 500 from 2 sport shoe factories producing for BATA, a local Indonesian company). The UCM (1999) study was commissioned by Press For Change (Jeff Ballinger, CEO) to conduct this survey of workers producing for Nike and BATA. Jeff Ballinger is the founder and director of Press for Change, a New Jersey-based consumer-information NGO that monitors workers’ rights issues in Asia. He went to Asia to teach trade union training programs for the AFL-CIO in 1984 and returned to the United States in 1995. The research was funded by a grant from Joshua Mailman and the Joshua Mailman Charitable Trust.  The sport shoe factories producing for Nike in this study are (Pt. Nikomas Gemilang, Pt. Nasa, Pt. Stawin, Pt. Adis, and Pt. Doson). The six Nike clothing factories are Pt. Citra Abadi Sejati L and II, P Dayup Ino, Pt Tuntex Cikupa, Pt Tuntex Cakung, Pt Konaan, and Pt Bintang Adi Busana. The two BATA factories are Pt Bata Jakarta and Purwakarta. The survey was conducted between September 10 and October 18, 1999, and the report was released in December (UCM, 1999). Until the next study was conducted, the UCM research was the most comprehensive attempt to investigate working conditions in Nike's Indonesian factories.

"Workers Voices," the Global Alliance report was conducted by Center for Societal Development Studies (CSDS) of Atma Jaya University in Jakarta. The CSDS (2001) report summarizes interviews with more than 4,450 workers in nine Nike factories in Indonesia; the study was funded almost exclusively by Nike (CSDS, 2001; O’Rourke, 2001). Nike gave a total $7.6 million to Global Alliance (GA) for several years’ work.  These nine Nike factories employ 53,810 workers.  The report (CSDS, 2001) prepared for GA indicates 4,000 workers (6.2% of the total workforce) interviewed face-to-face, and 450 participated in focus group discussions.  Proportional random sampling was used to enlist the voluntary responses of the 4,450 workers (controlling for proportionate representation of males and females, education background, and married or single status). However, Nike required that union representatives not be sampled.  A review of the methodology of the study reveals that Nike staff members had its hand in all phases of the study, from design, sampling, interview training, data-cleaning, writing parts of the report, to disseminating the results in an interim report (which contains Nike's equivocations and its plans for reform). In short, there was little that could be called "independent" in this study. We will review this claim in the next sections.  In Part II, we look at several key study differences.

 

PART II. SOME KEY STUDY DIFFERENCES

RESEARCH DESIGN  - One of the more starling differences in the two studies is that the UCM research design included a direct comparison of wages and working conditions between Nike sport shoe factories and the BATA sport shoe factories.  Nike has claimed for two decades that no other sport shoe company has better working conditions, especially those of a indigenous variety; the implication being tested then is whether a local shoe factory had conditions any better than a global transnational corporation's subcontractors.  UCM (1999) found, for example, that BATA workers are being paid wages equal to or better than those being paid to Nike sport shoe workers - 42% of the workers surveyed were earning a basic monthly wage of more than Rp. 300,000 ($US 41) per month, compared with only 16% of Nike sport shoe workers. On the other hand, 44% of the BATA workers surveyed are on very low pay, earning less than Rp. 250,000 ($US 34) per month. BATA employs temporary contract workers and pays them at a lower rate to compete for international contract work; full time workers enjoy wage advantages.

The UCM Jakarta study also provides a contrast of Nike garment and Nike shoe factories, pointing out that wages are significantly lower in Nike clothing factories. 31% of the 1,200 Nike apparel workers surveyed by UCM reported receiving a basic wage of less than Rp. 250,000 ($US 34) a month for a standard week.  There are also wage differences in the CSDS study among the 9 factories, but there is no indications of which ones produce garments versus shoes. Such a contrast would be quite helpful in investigating relative working conditions, and relative reported incidents of various forms of abuse (see next section).  In the CSDS study, 3.8% of the workers reported getting lower wages than the legal minimum wages at the time, from $23 to $31 (depending upon the factory).

The UCM (1999) study trained workers to carry out the interviews, while CSDS (2001) trained Indonesian university students to conduct the data-collection phase of their study. UCM points out that workers are able to gain rapport and confidence of fellow workers. UCM also stresses the likelihood of incidents being under-reported, since “workers are well aware that if it is reported to factory management that they have been critical of the factory they may be the first to be ‘let go’ if a drop in orders leads to workers being laid off” (UCM, 1999: 6). The CSDS report stresses the researchers' focus on confidentiality, yet the study teams that supervised the university student interviewers, formed at each of their nine sites included factory managers, and the training was done by a "tri-partite" group composed of GA consultants, Nike corporate staff members, and CSDS academics. In both methods, workers fearing retaliation may well understate problems in their factory, for fear their comments will be reported to management. In the UCM method there was less direct involvement of Nike corporate staff in the research design, execution, and write up.

In terms of how the reports articulate the findings, the two studies differ in how politely the worker comments are couched in the reporting of their findings. In the CSDS study couches its language in benign terms, such as noting how  workers receive “harsh or unkind words” while in the UCM study the language is more direct, and includes actual workers' language, including such insults as “You Fool!”, “You Idiot!”, “You’re Lazy!”, and “You’re Stupid!"  Both studies do report workers being insulted by being referred to as “You Dog!.” But the UCM study uses also the more vulgar insults like “F_ _ _ You!” and You Whore!” and points out how Nike front line supervisors have been trained to use such language particularly in the sport shoe factories (Hancock, 1997 reports similar findings).  The conclusion reached by UCM's authors are that Nike has not implemented promised changes in how supervisors punish their workers.  By contrast, CSDS rationalizes that it the high-pressure target (quota) systems and deadlines of the Athletic Apparel industry that causes the direct supervisors to engage in more physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. In short, CSDS argues that abusive management practices are not the fault of supervisors, but are the result of a high pressure work environment of factories competing in the global economy.

As a corporate consulting report, CSDS (2001) is careful to point out that if they “learn of alleged violations it reports these to corporate members,” but not to other authorities, nor to the workers who participated in the study, or the union members who did not. And “since it [the report] deals with worker perceptions, it is difficult to determine with certainty whether specific instances of code violations occurred.”  When violations were noted in the studies, information was turned over to Nike-compliance staff members, but for “confidentiality reasons” the report indicates Nike staff was not given enough specific detail to follow up on any specific reported incidents, and therefore the study has neither the “depth or scope” to follow-up on reported incidents of verbal, sexual, or physical abuse (CSDS, 2001, see limitations #1).  “Nike and the Global Alliance are unable to identify respondents or perpetrators to investigate specific allegations” (CSCS, 2001: 25).  There was also data cleaning to eliminate any data that showed “inconsistencies” of interpretation through “data quality control” (see issue#2). Eight questions pertaining to job satisfaction and six on personal development (using scale responses) were dropped from the final report (issue #3). Another alternative, would be to include the messy data, and let the academic community, as well as the work force, determine what is too ambiguous.

According to the report (CSDS, 2001) the research “is not designed to monitor these workplaces’ compliance with company codes of conduct or with national law.”  The stated purpose of the CSDS study is “an initiative intended to lead to greater worker satisfaction and improved quality of working life for factory workers.”  A skeptic's reading of such argument, would lead to the conclusion that GA (CSDS)'s covert goal is to be a public relations shield for the Nike Corporation.

Independence - As stated earlier, the research process is supervised by “Nike’s corporate responsibility representative” (Section II: 12)who coordinates with the CSDS study team and the GA overseeing partner. Based on the results of the first study of Vietnam and Thailand, the research protocol was fine-tuned based upon “lessons learned” which seems on the surface a way to improve the research process (this was done in a meeting with a Nike representative, Section II: 12). "The survey was further refined with new ideas from both GA and Nike, with changes relating primarily to workplace issues" (Section II: 12). And "questions were reworded" the report says (p. 12) "in order to eliminate biases from the respondents" (p. 12).  But, when the refinement includes the counsel of corporate staff, the goal of "independence" is compromised, if not subverted, and bias is turned toward corporate interests and concerns.  The tri-partite (GA, CSDS, Nike) also approved the “final version” of the questionnaire used in all nine Indonesian factories. 

Please note the absence of worker participation in the tri-partite detailed in the CSDS (2001) report; experts from Nike, GA, and CSDS participate, but worker participation is a form of bias. The workers are treated as "in-place" metering devices, to produce the research. Finally, in terms of who wrote what, interim report (CSDS, 2001) contains 43 pages authored by Nike corporate staff (the "Nike Remediation Plan," i.e. pp. 64-106) and 7 pages of summaries of various ILO reports (pp. 13-19) about Indonesia's economy; the other 56 pages (53.8%) is devoted to reporting and interpreting survey results. We simply do not know how much of the 56 pages was approved, authored, or reviewed by Nike corporate staff before the Interim Report was released, first to the London Financial Times, and then placed on the Nike web site.

The CSDS questionnaire instrument was pilot tested in several factories, and more questions were dropped. Project teams of 8-10 members line operators, 1 or 2 union officials, and one factory manager. “Nike requested union representatives not be included in the in-depth interviews” process (CSDS, 2001). Also local community groups were not included in the research study, since according to CSDS (2001) “local laws prohibiting community-based research without a permit.”  26 data-collectors, mostly students, were recruited from Indonesian universities (4 quit due to personal reasons). Again, I point out that the tri-partite panel of GA, CSDA, and Nike (staff members) did the orientations and was in direct control of the process throughout; this violates all known definitions of independent research or independent monitoring. The study lasted from August to October 2000; focus groups (4 at 8 factories, and 13 at the 9th one) were completed February 16, 2001. It is GA’s policy not to use live-recording equipment during focus groups or interviews. Results will be presented to Project Team members and factory management once all analysis is completed, and evidently not to workers who provided the data.

The interviewers from GA (GA, 2000 Assessment Protocol) introduce themselves as university scholars:

“My name (introduce yourself), interviewer of Center for Societal Development Studies, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta. I am here today working with the Global Alliance to conduct a survey about factory workers’ job and life experiences and their future aspirations .My name (introduce yourself), interviewer of Center for Societal Development Studies, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta. I am here today working with the Global Alliance to conduct a survey about factory workers’ job and life experiences and their future aspirations.”

Why did they not introduce themselves as students from local Indonesian universities?

UCM Study Approach - UCM trained twenty-five workers in the survey process, including interview techniques (as compared to twenty-six university students used by CSDS) The workers carried out their interviews either in the factories during breaks or after work. The UCM interviewers introduced themselves as fellow workers.

It was felt that workers would feel more comfortable talking to another worker, and more likely to trust that their comments would remain confidential (UCM, 1999: 8).

A weakness of the study is that UCM did not use random sampling methods. Instead the workers collected a quota of responses from the thirteen factories. In all 4,000 workers were interviewed: 2,300 from 5 sport shoe factories producing for Nike; 1,200 from 6 clothing factories producing for Nike, and 500 from 2 sport shoe factories producing for BATA.  Both union and non-union members were included in the interviews. 

Table 1: UCM Factories, Employees, and Sample Size.

Nike Clothing Factories

(1)Total number of workers employed.

 (2) Number of survey respondents.

Percentages:

Surveyed/ Total workers

 

 

 

 

Pt  Citra  Abadi  Sejati I &  II

4000

300

07.50

Pt   Dayup  Indo

800

250

31.25

Pt  Tuntex  Cikupa

1800

250

13.89

Pt  Tuntex  Cakung

800

175

21.88

Pt  Konaan

5000

125

02.50

Pt  Bintang  Adi Busana

               600

100

16.67

 

 

 

 

 

Total Nike Clothing respondents

1200

 

 Nike Shoe Factories

 

 

 
       

Pt  Nikomas  Gemilang

24000

950

03.96

Pt.  Nasa

6000

200

03.33

Pt. Starwin

4000

336

08.40

Pt. Adis

4000

324

08.10

Pt. Doson

6000

490

08.17

 

 

 

 

 

Total  Nike Shoe respondents

2300

 
       

Factory

Total number of workers employed.

Number of survey respondents.

 

 

 

 

 

Pt  Bata  Jakarta  &  Purwakarta

1000

500

50

 

 

 

 

 

Total  BATA respondents

500

 
       
  Total Workforce in these 12 factories: 58,000              4000

06.90

       

Table One was compiled from three different tables in the UCM study. In the UCM study, 4,000 of 58,000 represents 6.9% (or 6.14% for just Nike workers) of the 58,000 workers in the 12 factories of the UCM study.   6.14% is comparable to the CSDS (Section II: 15) result of 6.2% (4,000 of 53,810 workers) in the nine factories they interviewed (plus 450 in focus groups).

The CSDS breakdown of the nine factories, is seven in footwear, one in apparel, and one in equipment. 

Neither study takes the size of the factory (in number of workers) into account in presenting their results. CSDS does not tell us if 6.2% is a percentage of the 53,810 or if it is a percentage held constant by sampling in each of the nine factory sites. In fact, when you do the division on the total (4000/53810) it comes to 7.43%. That would suggest that perhaps 6.2% is an average percentage of workers sampled from each factories.  The UCM study on the other hand, reports how many workers were interviewed in each factory, which allows findings to be interpreted accordingly. Neither study does significance tests; they simply report frequencies. 

The UCM survey included seven questions

Question 1. What village do you come from?

Question 2. What is your monthly basic pay?

Question 3. How many years have you worked at this factory?

Question 4. Have you seen workers being shouted at or mistreated in this factory?

Question 5. Any younger brothers and sisters at home in village?

Question 6. Has  the trade union or government ever helped to solve any worker  problem?

Question 7. What is your major complaint or negative experience regarding your factory?

The report findings are direct and to the point (28 pages as opposed to 106 for CSDS). For example, the UCM report indicates 1,555 workers the major complaint was being forced to work excessive overtime without breaks and for a further 344 it was the difficulties associated with getting permission for annual leave or menstrual leave. In the Bata surveys, only 15 of the 500 workers surveyed identified compulsory overtime as their major complaint and only 13 prioritized the target system (UCM, 1999: 4). The overwhelming majority of workers surveyed (93% of Nike sport shoe workers, 99% of Nike apparel workers and 94% of BATA sport shoe workers)  indicated that neither the Indonesian government nor the official government union SPSI had ever helped to solve any of the problems facing workers.

 

 PART III - Verbal, Physical and Sexual Abuse

VERBAL, PHYSICAL, AND SEXUAL ABUSE - In the CSDS Global Alliance study, 56.8% of the respondents have personally observed a supervisor verbally abuse (Verbal abuse (shouting, swearing, rudeness) another worker in the past year. In the UCM study, 57% of the sport shoe workers and 59% of the clothing workers reported they had seen workers being shouted at or subject to cruel treatment by their supervisors. In this statistic the two studies are remarkably similar in their findings. Both studies reported punishments that included unwanted touching (slapped on the buttock), physical abuse (being slapped), being forced to run around the factory, and having to stand for two hours in the factory yard (i.e. “being dried in the sun”).  Both studies focus on the high pressure of the work environment. Both studies report that workers hate their canteens, must work in these factories whatever their conditions to pay the school fees of their children. The UCM study reports that 3,500 Nike workers have 6,572 younger siblings in home villages that rely on their support. The CSDS study reports on the mothers who work for Nike.

 

The UCM study asked, “Have you seen workers being shouted at or mistreated in this factory?”  Workers gave examples of being pulled by the ears, pinched or slapped on the buttock while being verbally insulted. Both studies reported workers being taking into the tropical sun and forced either to stand or to run around the factory yard (“dried in the sun”).

 

 

 In the Nike Shoe plants, commonly used words used by supervisors, include: You Fool!, You Idiot!, You Pig!, You Monkey!, You Dog!.,  F_ _ _  [word removed] you!, You Whore!, You Animal!, You’re Lazy!, You’re Stupid! In the clothing factories, You Fool!, You Idiot!, You Pig!, You Monkey!, You Dog!.,  F_ _ _   [word removed] you!, You Whore!, You Animal!, You’re Lazy!, You’re Stupid! In the BATA factories, You Fool!, You Idiot!,  You’re Lazy!  You’re Stupid!

 

 

According to Hancock (1997), in his 1996 study ("Nike's Satanic Factories in West Java"), a Nike contractor, PT Feng Tay in Banjaran. The Nike factory in Banjarmasin is a Taiwanese joint venture company, and is usually called by its Taiwanese name Feng Tay by the local people. The Taiwan managed factory trains its factory managers to punish female workers who were working too slowly by systematically insulting them using phrases such as “F_ _ _ [word removed]You!” and “Hurry up and move you Stupid Bitch!” Hancock (1997) also reported, “The average work day is 11.5 hours and 81% of workers work seven days a week.” 41% of workers surveyed were under 16.

 

By contract, the management practices at the BATA factories while including being shouted at, had more benign phrases such as “You Fool!”, “You Idiot!”, “You’re Lazy!”, and “You’re Stupid.” Both Studies asked similar questions about Verbal Abuse; this permits a comparison of the findings of the two studies.

 

Table 2: Comparisons on Verbal Abuse Questions in UCM Study.

 

UCM STUDY

CSDS STUDY

Responses:

Nike Shoe Factories

Nike Clothing

BATA

Nike Factories

Yes

1309

702

127

2272

No

991

498

373

1728

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCM Nike Shoe

UCM Nike Clothing

UCM BATA

CSDS/GA

Percentages of

Yes response

0.569130435

0.585

0.254

0.568

The CSDS study asked, four types of harassment and abuse questions (sexual comments, sexual touching, physical abuse, and verbal abuse).  Across all factories, there were 56.8% verbal above reports (across the 6 factories the percentages ranged from a low of 38.4% to a high of 69.4%.  Since the measures are not independent we will use this item in our contrasts in Table One and Figure One. The UCM study asked respondents, “(Question 4) “Have you seen workers being shouted at or mistreated in this factory?” According to this contrast (Table 2), the BATA factories had significantly lower rates of verbal abuse reported than any of the Nike factories, which do not appear to be statistically different (57 to 59% for Nike as compared to 25% for BATA.  This result suggests that there is something fundamentally different about Nike's program of supervision at its subcontract factories than for that of the BATA factories.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to turn supervisory training over to BATA supervisors at the Nike factories, in order to implement practices that would lower the amount of verbal and other forms of abuse.

Figure 1: Comparison of UCM and CSDS on Verbal Abuse Question Responses

 

Comparison Among Factories of Reported Unwelcome Harassment and Abuse

The CSDS question asked: In the last year have you personally ever received the following harassments from a line supervisor or manager in this factory (read for respondents)? (All questions are Yes or No options; reported scores are % of Yes answers). Note in the question response options (see Table 3), the workers completing the interview have a fixed response scale (a through d), plus "other" but given the large number of questions being asked and the time limit of 60 minutes per interview, there was not time, it seems, to list the "other" response itmes.

Table 3: Frequencies by factories on Harassment and Abuse (CSDS)

 

SURVEY ITEM

ALL

F1

F2

F3

F4

F5

F6

F7

F8

F9

a.

Unwelcome sexual comments

7.8

9.7

6.2

6.6

8.2

7.9

0.7

9.2

13.3

17.7

b.

Sexual touching

2.4

3.5

6.9

0.9

0.8

4.4

1.6

1.2

2.3

3.8

c.

Physical abuse (hitting, pushing)

3.3

2.7

1.0

1.3

1.4

5.3

1.2

4.2

5.5

13.8

d.

Verbal abuse(shouting, swearing, rudeness)

30.2

33.4

24.1

21.1

29.3

39.4

18.0

33.5

42.2

40.5

 

Figure 2: CSDS 2001 Results Sorted from Best to Worst Experienced Factory Abuse Situation

Comparison Among Factories of OBSERVED Unwelcome Harassment and Abuse

Question: In the last year have you personally ever OBSERVED the following harassments from a line supervisor or manager in this factory (read for respondents)? (All questions are Yes or No options; reported scores are % of Yes answers).

Table 4: Comparison of observed unwelcome harassment and abuse (CSDS)

 

SURVEY ITEM

ALL

F1

F2

F3

F4

F5

F6

F7

F8

F9

a.

Unwelcome sexual comments

25.7

25.0

18.3

23.0

28.2

26.0

11.9

32.4

34.0

33.8

b.

Sexual touching

15.8

15.2

22.8

6.9

19.7

15.6

9.6

19.5

13.7

10.0

c.

Physical abuse (hitting, pushing)

13.7

8.6

5.2

9.1

8.5

27.1

9.6

17.1

9.4

16.3

d.

Verbal abuse(shouting, swearing, rudeness)

56.8

57.3

38.4

44.3

51.8

64.7

50.7

62.4

69.4

61.3

 

Figure 3: CSDS 2001 Results Sorted from Best to Worst Observed Factory Abuse Situation (CSDS)

Physical Abuse – 14% of the workers reported that they have observed some form of physical abuse (p. 39). The range was from 1% to 13.8% across the 9 factories. This consisted of the supervisor throwing objects, hitting, pushing, and shoving workers. Focus group results were included in the report on the issue of physical abuse.  The abuse comes from a number of expatriate and line supervisors. “Workers reported observing an expatriate who slapped a young worker and another who threw a book at a worker when she was slow to bring the materials to the sewing division” (p. 39). In more than one focus group workers reported that line supervisors would go “to the dormitory to bring a sick worker back to work” (p. 39). Others reported how in one factory the “punishment is given to late workers by exposing them to the sun for about two hours, requiring them to clean the toilets or run around the factory grounds.”  Further, the “kinds of abuse most commonly reported in focus groups at three factories include throwing out soles at workers or hitting them. Other physical punishment includes denying use of the toilet” (p. 40).  Cases of physical abuse escalate when supervisors are “under pressure to meet target, orders are late, or materials do not arrive on time” (p. 40).

 

QUESTION: Does the direct supervisor use harsh/unkind words when speaking to you, and if so, how often? (always, sometimes, rarely, never)?

Table 5 – Frequency of Supervisor use of Harsh/Unkind Words (CSDS)

Frequency

F1

F2

F3

F4

F5

F6

F7

F8

F9

Always

37.8

4.1

3.1

2.2

2.6

0.2

2.5

25.0

19.0

Sometimes

41.8

12.8

10.7

14.2

16.3

10.0

20.6

47.3

38.0

Rarely

11.9

4.8

6.0

15.9

8.1

5.7

10.6

11.7

12.7

Never

8.2

78.3

80.2

67.7

72.8

84.2

66.1

16.0

30.4

 

In the UCM study, the workers were given an open ended question (as opposed to the fixed multiple choice response item used by CSDS). Question 7 asks, What is your major complaint or negative experience regarding your factory? I took the number of mentions in each type of factory and developed a weighted measure to permit comparison (i.e. the number of mentions divided by the total mentions, not including category of no complaints).  This permits standard comparisons between the five Nike shoe factories, the six Nike clothing factories and the two BATA factories.

TABLE 6 - UCM 13 Factories Comparison, Controlling for Sample size on question (7) on the Relative Percentages of Major Complaints or Negative Experiences

5 Nike Sport Shoe Factories 6 Nike Clothing Factories 2 BATA Factories 5 Nike Sport Shoe Factories 6 Nike Clothing Factories 2 BATA Factories
Complaints # of Mentions # of Mentions # of Mentions Percent Percent Percent
Compulsory and non stop Overtime 818 737 15 38.35% 64.25% 3.68%
Low Wages 547 60 171 25.64% 5.23% 41.91%
Difficulties in getting permission for annual leave or menstrual leave 208 136   9.75% 11.86% 0.00%
Cruel Treatment 101 29 15 4.74% 2.53% 3.68%
Target System 88 48 13 4.13% 4.18% 3.19%
Hot Condition in Working Room 68 18 61 3.19% 1.57% 14.95%
Wage Deductions as Punishment 0 0 64 0.00% 0.00% 15.69%
Lack of Transport facilities 59 20 0 2.77% 1.74% 0.00%
Non Nutritious meal 62 23 0 2.91% 2.01% 0.00%
Wage and Overtime work system 35 27 6 1.64% 2.35% 1.47%
Lack of water in toilet/lack of drinking water/lack of work tools/lack of facilities 39 22 0 1.83% 1.92% 0.00%
Contract System 0 0 32 0.00% 0.00% 7.84%
Lack of medical facilities 29 0 0 1.36% 0.00% 0.00%
Seniority Pay 28 23 0 1.31% 2.01% 0.00%
Praying rooms space narrow 23 0 0 1.08% 0.00% 0.00%
No  Labour Social System 15 0 11 0.70% 0.00% 2.70%
Job transfer, very often without reason 10 0 0 0.47% 0.00% 0.00%
No Menstrual Leave 0 0 11 0.00% 0.00% 2.70%
Lack of Security Facilities 0 0 9 0.00% 0.00% 2.21%
Sexual Abuse 3 0 0 0.14% 0.00% 0.00%
No Trade Union 0 4 0 0.00% 0.35% 0.00%
No Complaints 167 53 0 6.77% 4.23% 0.00%
Totals 2300 1200 408      
less; no com; plaints 2133 1147 408      

The results in the above table confirm once again (controlling for sample size differences), that working conditions vary between BATA and Nike. Compulsory non-stop overtime (contrast last three columns) is the number one complaint for workers at both types of Nike factories, but it is not among the top four complaints for BATA (again controlling for sample size). The importance of this finding is that while the CSDS study focused much of its analysis on sexual harassment, this is not the main concern of workers.  The results of the CSDS reflect the limitations of forced-choice questioning methods, as opposed to a method, such as used by UCM that permits workers to "freely" list their complaints.  The relative magnitudes is interesting as well. 38.4% mention the compulsory overtime in the Nike sport shoe factories and 64.3 % in the clothing apparel ones.  The contrast is quite dramatic and suggests that workers in Nike's clothing apparel are still faced with this form of abuse, after years of attempts to stop the practice.

For the BATA respondents, the big concern is low wages, with 41.9% of all complaints. Low wages is the second most mentioned item for Nike sports shoe workers, 25.6% of all complaints. Sexual abuse (.14%) was mentioned at the Nike shoe factory, but not at the Nike clothing or the BATA factories.  And at the Nike shoe factory, sexual abuse, was last on their list of items to complain about.  Again, these result suggest that the CSDS study is not tapping the fundamental concerns of the Nike work force, and is focusing its report on items that were available for workers to be responding to in the survey.  Nevertheless, it is instructive to look at one of the few response items that did seem to matter, the direct supervisor's use of harsh or unkind words spoken to workers.

Figure 4: Factories Sorted from Best to Worst on Question of Direct Supervisor uses harsh/unkind words when speaking to workers (CSDS).

 

Some common examples of reported use of harsh/unkind words by a direct supervisor include “insults about workers’ intelligence, calling workers insulting animals, using angry and harsh tones” (p. 40). Figure 3 suggests that use of abusive language is significantly higher in factories F9, F8, and F1.  “”In three factories” according to the focus groups, “respondents reported becoming accustomed to hearing these unkind words, and report becoming use[d] to it” (p. 40). In all 9 factories there were reports of supervisors “telling workers to go ahead and dies, or wait until you pass out first, in response to requests to use the health services or take sick leave” (p. 40).

 

In all of the factories, focus group discussions, workers said they believe verbal and physical abuse can be the result of cascading pressures when top management reprimands middle management, middle management reprimands line supervisors, and the workers are verbally or physically punished by the line supervisor” (p. 40).

 

The working conditions are described as follows by the focus group responses, “verbal punishment is often the result of not reaching targeted outputs, sewing machines breaking down, products that are rejected, workers who can’t keep up with the line, or workers requesting annual leave” (p. 40.

 

What are the consequences of sexual harassment at the Nike workplace?  “Sexual harassment can lead to frustration, loss of self-esteem, absenteeism, and decreased productivity… also has an effect on workers’ morale and commitment to the factory” (p. 41). Some quit their jobs.  “Allowing a climate of tolerance of sexual harassment leaves the enterprise with a poor image, and with a growing number of countries where court action may successfully result in damages and fines, financial risks are increasing” (p. 41).

 

TABLE 7 - Relation between Sexual Abuse and Stress Questions in CSDS

 

Sexual Comments Question

Reported Feelings of Stress Question

 

N

Never %

1or more times %

Never Observed

2947

73

27

Observed but did not Receive

739

58

42

Received Sexual Comments

312

44

56

 

 

 

TABLE 8 - Relation between Verbal Abuse and Stress Questions in CSDS

 

Verbal Abuse Question

Reported Feelings of Stress Question

 

N

Never %

1-2 times %

3-5 times %

5+ times %

Never Observed

1640

79.0

15.1

3.5

2.4

Observed but did not Receive

1152

66.1

22.7

5.9

5.3

Received Verbal Abuse

1206

54.8

24.8

9.4

11.0

 

In both Tables 3 and 4, the results indicate when the sample is split according to the relative observed/received sexual comments or verbal abuse and associated to the stress question, seeing and receiving either abuse adds to one’s stress at work. The researchers qualify the results by pointing out that other things in life can cause one stress.  Still the results do appear to be statistically significant and in the expected direction.

 

 

PART IV - Wages

The two studies come to different conclusions on the number of hours workers work. For UCM workers reported they put in more than 72 hours a week, while the CSDS study the researchers in their summary assert they work only 7 hours a day, six days a week, or 42 hours. However, the CSDS study does not ask about forced overtime, as discussed, misses a major item of concern to workers in the UCM study.

WAGES – at the time of the UCM study, 84% of the Nike sport shoe workers interviewed  indicated that they were earning a basic wage of between Rp. 251,000 ($US 34) and Rp. 300,000 ($US 41) per month for a standard 40 hour week. The legal minimum for the area is Rp. 230,000 ($US32) per month. For the CSDS study, 96.2% reported their wages were above the legal (regional) minimum wage of US $32.9 (base monthly wage).  The average base monthly wage in the CSDS study varied by factory from a low of Rp 294,140 (US $33.8) to a high of Rp 342,790 (US$ 39.4). Also, the CSDS study indicated that 3.8% of the workers reported getting lower wages than the legal minimum wages at the time of the questioning, from $23 to $31 (depending upon the factory). CSDS plays up how much more the Nike wages are relative to other manufacturing jobs, while UCM argues that with the Asian economic crisis, prices of many food stuffs have more than doubled and with inflation the real wages of Nike workers are still well below what they were in July 1997. The CSDS study point out that the government raised minimum wage rates before and after their study. But the UCM study cautions that such increases did not cost Nike very much, because of the relative inflation level in Indonesia compared to other parts of the world.

The CSDS (2001: 29-30) says workers were asked a question about the base monthly salary without fringe benefits, bonuses or overtime, then a question about their total monthly salary. 96.2% reported their wages were above the legal (regional) minimum wage of US $32.9 (base monthly wage).  The average base monthly wage varied by factory from a low of Rp 294,140 (US $33.8) to a high of Rp 342,790 (US$ 39.4). 3.8% of the workers reported getting lower wages than the legal minimum wages at the time, from $23 to $31 (depending upon the factory).

WITH BONUS, OVERTIME, & FRINGE BENEFITS – the workers response was Rp 471,550 (US$ 54) to Rp 614,150  (US$ 70.6).  The standard is six working day a week with salaries of $2.26 to $2.94 per day. The researchers assumed seven hour days can came up with a figure of 32 to 42 cents per hour, noting that hourly rate for Indonesian production workers is 17 cents an hour.

The CSDS, 2001) interim report is ironic, citing evidence from “a formal report from the ILO (International Labor Organization, 1997) indicates that 53% of the reasons given for strikes in Indonesia related to workers’ dissatisfaction with wages they receive.” The CSDS report goes on to cite ILO statistics about manufacturing wage rates in Indonesia. They asked an obvious question, as to whether there were in pay increases in the past year (said increases as stated in CSDS report were mandated by the Indonesian government). January, 2001 for example the Indonesian government mandated a minimum wage increase from  Rp 286,000 (US $32.9)  to  Rp 344,257  (US #39.6).  What rewards or recognition did you receive for your work in this factory in the last 12 months (read for   respondents)? (Answer is Yes or No).

    a. Award                                            

    b. Promotion

    c. Pay increase

    d. Bonus

    e. Supervisor/management asked for ideas

    f.  I represented the factory in some events

    g.  Other (specify): _______________________

The categories of this question do not tap the kinds of concerns coming through in the open-ended response questions in the UCM survey.  Most notable is the absence of the issue of wage level adequacy and forced overtime.

 

Conclusions

Contrary to Nike’s repeated claims, its systems of controls have not been able to curtail systematic verbal, physical and sexual abuse by its contracted factory management.  There are differences in the levels of abuse reported in the sport Shoe and Garment factories in the UCM study and among the nine factories in the CSDS study.  Workers wages are for the most part above the legal minimum wage, but not sufficient to meet basic survival needs of Indonesian workers. 

Differences in the study methodologies were the reliance of Global Alliance on Nike to control and supervise all phases of the study. The most obvious and visible control being the exclusion of a whole class of workers from being surveyed or included in focus groups, any which had union leadership. In comparing the two reports the PR gloss and back peddling of the CSDS study is most obvious. In future attempts, Nike would be advised to engage in “independent” research practices, rather than controlling everything from the design of questions, refusal to include certain questions in the results report, the training of the researchers, the orientation of the data-collectors, and the dissemination of the results. 

The UCM study included a comparison between Nike shoe factories and Nike apparel factories along with a comparison to two non-Nike shoe factories. This type of comparison allows monitors, factory management, and transnational corporate management to ascertain if different production contexts harbor differing working conditions.  In contrast to Nike’s frequent claims that its factory conditions are better than those of the local industry, the Bata factories were better with regards to supervisor abuses of power and a bit better in terms of wages. Both could stand improvement.

It can be concluded that while producing a quantity of many charts and graphs, the CSDS study fails to capture the basic and fundamental concerns of workers, gathered in simple and direct seven question study conducted by UCM.  Involving the workers in the design of the questions is fundamental to doing "independent" assessment of basic working condition assessments.  Finally, it can safely be concluded that the Nike Corporation has significant control over the research and reporting process, and has introduced significant managerial bias into the design and results of this survey. 

It is time to do some much more rigorous work, that uses analyses sensitive to the needs of workers, and really does include the "Voice of the worker" all through the process. Then and only then will we be able to say with any degree of certainty that the violations of human rights have stopped and Nike is doing more than a highly expensive ($7.6 million dollar PR campaign.

In conclusion, this analysis shows, in my opinion, that when given open-ended response options, the kinds of issues workers bring up are significantly different than what the force-choice (multiple choice) option given by GA reveals. Nike is muddying the waters, asking a lot of questions of little importance compared to the major concerns of forced overtime and inadequate wages. When I controlled for sample size differences, it also shows that BATA does a better job.


References

 

CSDS Center for Societal Development Studies Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta Indonesia (2001) prepared for Global Alliance for Workers and Communities; An interim report workers’ needs and aspirations in nine Nike contract factories in Indonesia. Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.nikebiz.com/labor/nike_gla_report.pdf

GA Report (2001) is a 104 page report in three sections (plus data collection protocols) available on the Global Alliance web site:

Section I "Introductory Statement by the Global Alliance" (22 February, 2001).  Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.theglobalalliance.com/pdfs/indonesia1.PDF (5 pages).

Section II "Workers' Voices: An Interim report of workers' needs and aspirations in nine Nike factories in Indonesia."  (22 February, 2001).  Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.theglobalalliance.com/pdfs/indonesia2.PDF (56 pages).

Section III "Nike Redemption Plan: Response to the Global Alliance's Report" (22 February, 2001).  Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.theglobalalliance.com/pdfs/indonesia_3.PDF (43 pages).

Data collection protocol). Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.theglobalalliance.com/content/assessment_findings/indonesia_survey_6.cfm

Hancock, Peter (1997) “"Walking Ghosts Who Work in Satan's factory." 4 April. Accessed March 89, 2001 http://www.caa.org.au/pr/1997/ghosts.html The full text of the report “Nike's Satanic Factories in West Java (Indonesia)” is on the Clean Clothes web site http://www.cleanclothes.org/companies/nike9-96.htm

Nike Biz Web Site (2001) Accessed March 10. http://www.nikebiz.com/labor/

O’Rourke, Dara (2001) To fix sweatshop conditions in factories, we must listen to workers. P. 21, February 27, The Boston Globe. Accessed March 9, 2001 http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/058/oped/To_fix_sweatshop_conditions_in_factories_we_must_listen_to_workers+.shtml

UCM Urban Community Mission (1999) “Cruel Treatment Working for Nike in Indonesia” UCM Survey Report, December 1999. Accessed March 9, 2001 http://summersault.com/~agj/clr/alerts/crueltreatmentworkingfornikeinindonesia.html This is a partial summary. Download the complete document at http://summersault.com/~agj/clr/alerts/letters/survey.rtf (Quotes in the present essay are form the download version).

 

 

Appendix - DEMOGRAPHICS from the CSDS study.

 

Ø      57.6% of the respondents were between 18 and 24 years of age.

Ø      83.2% were women

Ø      60.3% were single

Ø      56.1% with one child

Ø      14.9% with 2 children

Ø      20.1% are responsible to care for people other than immediate family (cousins and elderly).

Ø      67.5% are migrants from West or Central Java

Ø      3 years is average time workers have been employed at their factory

 

EDUCATION in CSDS study

Ø      46.6% graduated senior high school.

Ø      39.4% completed only junior high

Ø      11% completed only primary school (51.3% is the workers’ population rate for this area).

 

EDUCATION AND AGE IN THE Hancock (1997) Study report (42 Nike women were surveyed from an overall 323 women).

Ø      60% of Nike workers surveyed had very low education levels, only SD (Primary School)

Ø      Age - average age of women surveyed from 'all other factories' was 18 years of age and only 15% of these entered the factory at the age of 15 years or less.

 

PAY AND ABUSE RESULTS

Ø      95% of those participating in the survey received pay increases in the last year.

Ø      30.2% of the respondents have personally experienced verbal abuse (Verbal abuse (shouting, swearing, rudeness) from a line supervisor in the past year.

Ø      56.8% of the respondents have personally observed a supervisor verbally abuse.

Ø      7.8% reported unwelcome sexual comments from a line supervisor in the past year.

Ø      3.3% reported they where physically abused by their line supervisor.

 

In the UCM study 4,000 workers from 13 factories were interviewed;

 

Ø      2,300 from 5 sport shoe factories producing for Nike

Ø      1,200 from 6 clothing factories producing for Nike and,

Ø      500 from 2 sport shoe factories producing for BATA.