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Nike Document Exposed

>November 7, 1997
>China Brotsky (415) 561-6337
>Joshua Karliner (415) 561-6567
>Sara Wood (415) 561-6568
>Secret Ernst & Young Audit of Nike in Vietnam Exposes Hazardous and Unjust
>Working Conditions:
>Accounting Firm's Labor and Environmental Auditing Competence Comes Under
>Fire as TRAC Independently Documents Even Worse Conditions Inside the Same
>Nike Factory
>Audit, TRAC Report and First Photos From Inside a Nike Vietnam Plant
>Available on Corporate Watch 
>SAN FRANCISCO, November 7 - As the White House Apparel Industry Partnership
>prepares to make its final report to the President, they have been
>presented new and damaging information on the way monitoring is being
>conducted by the industry. 
>Nike hired the public accounting firm Ernst & Young to conduct an audit of
>labor and environmental conditions inside its subcontractors' factories in
>Vietnam to see if the factories were in compliance with Nike's corporate
>code of conduct. This secret report was recently leaked to a research
>associate of the Transnational Resource & Action Center (TRAC) in San
>Francisco, California.
>TRAC also has the first independent photographs ever taken inside a Nike
>factory in Vietnam.
>While the Ernst & Young Report declares that Nike is in compliance with its
>own code of conduct, it simultaneously documents a series of hazardous and
>unjust working conditions inside the plant, including worker exposure to
>hazardous chemicals.
>Meanwhile, TRAC's report documents much more serious conditions than the
>accounting firm found, calling into question the role that such firms can
>or should play in monitoring the shoe and garment industries.
>Dara O'Rourke, TRAC Research Associate and United Nations consultant, was
>able to independently document conditions at the site of the Ernst & Young
>audit, the Tae Kwang Vina factory in Vietnam. Mr. O'Rourke conducted
>walk-through audits of environmental and working conditions, interviewed
>management personnel, met with Tae Kwang Vina's managing director and
>interviewed workers confidentially outside the factory.
>"I met with workers inside the Nike factory that had never been informed
>that the chemicals they were using to assemble Nike sneakers were toxic,"
>said Mr. O'Rourke. "These workers were working long hours for little pay in
>unsafe conditions, often without protective equipment and with little or no
>training about other potential hazards." 
>TRAC's report,"Smoke From a Hired Gun," authored by Mr. O'Rourke, critiques
>the Ernst & Young's findings and methodology, while revealing more serious
>workplace hazards and labor law violations than Ernst & Young documented.
>Although Nike asserts it has solved the problems reported by E&Y, Mr.
>O'Rourke was in the factory in June, six months after the audit was done,
>and saw very dangerous conditions continuing. He also spoke with workers in
>October who reported that a number of the problems persist. 
>China Brotsky, Chair of the Board of TRAC, "There is contention among the
>members of the White House Apparel Industry Partnership on the issue of
>independent monitoring. Our report clearly illustrates that accredited
>human rights, labor and religious organizations must independently monitor
>these factories, not accountants on industry payrolls." 
>The Apparel Industry Partnership is a committee comprised of industry,
>labor, human rights, and religious representatives that were assembled by
>former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to address issues of sweatshop labor.
>The committee's report will attempt to establish global labor codes and
>international monitoring system for the U.S. apparel industry. 
>Sara Wood,
>Corporate Watch