HIGHTOWER: Nike "Sun Dries" Asian Workers

Nike advises us in its shoe ads to "Just Do It."Well, a stunning new report reveals that Nike definately practices what it preaches -- the company "does it" big-time to the Asian girls and young women who work in the sweatshops making Nikes.Philip Knight, head honcho of this $8-billion-a-year shoe giant, insists that, By Gollies, he has instituted a code-of-conduct for all his shoe suppliers in Asia, requiring them to treat workers fairly. "We do the right thing," Knight loudly brags through his PR operation.Well, ask Thuyen Nguyen about that. He's a Vietnamese-American businessman in New Jersey who was a Wall Street banker and now heads the Vietnam Labor Watch. He decided to check-up on Knight by going to Nike factories in Vietnam for a first-hand look. Nike said "great, go ahead" -- but now they're sorry.Mr. Nguyen found that Nike workers average only a buck-sixty a day making shoes that Knight sells here for $180 a pair. Lest you think $1.60 is good money in Vietnam, it costs $2.10 a day just for food.As if this poverty wage is not punishment enough, the 15, 16-year-old girls in Nike's plants were found to be physically abused, too. While Mr. Nguyen was there, 56 women workers were made to run around the Nike factory in the hot sun, because they were not wearing the right shoes. A dozen passed-out from heat exhaustion and had to go to the hospital.Then there is the practice of "sun drying." To instill discipline, Nike supervisors force workers to stand outside in the broiling sun -- treating them like sun-dried tomatoes.There is sexual abuse, too -- male supervisors feel free to grab and grope the girls right out on Nike's factory floor, in front of all the others.To help stop this inhumane abuse by Nike, contact the Vietnam Labor Watch on 212-996-0013.For more information:Vietnam Labor Watch : 212/996-0013Source:"Brutality in Vietnam" by Bob Herbert. New York Times: March 28, 1997. "Compelling new evidence of Labor Rights violations" by Tony Newman. Global Exchange Press Release : March 27, 1997.

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