Nike's Use of Child Slave Labor

by Christine Fabics
June 2005

What is child slave labor? Child slave labor is employment of minors, especially in work that may interfere with their education or endanger their health. Slavery seems outdated, but it is still prevalent in the modern world. Nike is one of the largest companies that use sweatshops and child slave labor. 

Nike has sweatshops all over the world. In the 1970s, Nike's shoes were mostly made in South Korea and Taiwan, with some factories still in the United States. However, in 1984 the $5.2 billion dollar Nike Corp. closed its last U.S. factory and moved its entire production to the cheap labor in Asia. Many of their sweatshops can now be found in Indonesia, China, and Vietnam, because these countries have no protective labor laws and endless supplies of cheap labor. 
CBS News 48 Hours reported on the Nike story in Vietnam and reported the following: 
1.) Nike workers in Vietnam earned on average 20 cents per hour 
2.) 15 women workers were hit on the head by their supervisor 
3.) 45 women were made to kneel on the ground for 25 minutes with their hands in the air 
4.) and a Korean supervisor fled the country after accusations that he sexually molested female workers. 

Workers at Vietnam Nike shoe manufacturing plants make $.20 an hour or $1.60 per day. The average cost of three meals is $2 a day, meaning that most people skip meals throughout the day. During the first three months of employment, all workers receive $37 per month, which is below the minimum wage of $45 per month in Vietnam. Nike claims that the workers are paid a lower wage because the law in Vietnam allows for a training wage less than the minimum wage. Just two percent of Nike's 630 million dollar operating budget could raise the salary of all 25,000 Vietnamese workers from a meager $1.60 a day to a livable wage of $3 a day. 

There are many inhumane working conditions that these workers have to deal with while working. For example, workers are not allowed to go to the bathroom more than once per eight hour shift, and they can't drink water more than twice per shift. It is also very common for workers to faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes, and poor nutrition while they are working.