Nike Urged To Stop Buying Cotton Produced by Slave Labor in Uzbekistan

April 17, 2013 in CSR by Gina-Marie Cheeseman


Cotton (Photo credit: David Stanley)

In January, I wrote about slave labor used in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. Uzbekistan is the sixth largest producer of cotton and the third largest exporter, so chances are great some of the clothes you wear contain Uzbeki cotton. For decades, the Uzbeki government has forced adults and children to pick cotton, and over a million are forced to pick cotton for little or no pay. Teachers are even ordered to close schools and enforce quotas in the cotton fields. Government and private business employees are sent by local authorities to pick cotton.

One major apparel company, Nike, Inc. still does business with Daewoo International, a company that knowingly profiting from forced labor in Uzbekistan,” according to an International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) petition. The ILRF petition asks Nike to stop doing business with Daewoo. There are several reasons why it would be in Nike’s best interest to stop doing business with Daewoo. The first reason is that last month, Nike declared on its website that it celebrated human rights day. The other reason is that Nike is one of the many companies that signed the Responsible Sourcing Network’s pledge to rid their supply chains of cotton from forced child labor in Uzbekistan. Part of living up to that pledge is to stop doing business with Daewoo.

ILRF is not the only one calling for Nike to stop buying cotton from Daewoo. On April 17, 2013, Uzbeki human rights activists, political leaders and prominent dissidents released a letter to Nike calling on the company to stop doing business with Daewoo.

H&M successfully urged to stop doing business with Daewoo

This is not the first time that a major apparel company has been the target of a petition urging them to stop buying cotton from Daewoo. In December, the Cotton Campaign targeted H&M, asking the Swedish retailer to not buy cotton from Daewoo. H&M responded to the petition by stating on its website that the “Cotton Campaign made us aware of that Daewoo through a joint venture were remaining as a small part owner of a supplier to H&M.” H&M stated that its supplier bought the remaining Daewoo share, and is the “100 percent owner” as of January 11, 2013.

If enough consumers sign the ILRF petition, there is a distinct possibility that Nike will follow in the footsteps of H&M and will stop doing business with Daewoo.

Sign the ILRF petition asking Nike to stop doing business with Daewoo International!

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