Friday, September 24, 2004

The No Sweat Sneaker

The No Sweat Sneaker, produced in a 100% union factory in Jakarta is finally here.

Distributed in Australia & New Zealand by ESP P/L, a business long involved in marketing environmentally friendly products, No Sweat sneakers are the world's most revolutionary sneaker. Okay they may look like a Converse All-Star copy, but these sneakers come with a feature that no other sneaker in history has ever had.

Each shoebox contains a detailed fact sheet that tells consumers exactly what wages and benefits that the union workers who produced the sneakers get paid. ESP P/L has challenged Nike and Reebok to do the same.

"If the people behind a little business like No Sweat can do this and make a profit, there's no reason why the Nikes and Reeboks of this world also can't," said ESP's Nick Savaidis.

"We hope every sneaker/sports shoe brand in the world will imitate this innovation. In fact, we dare them to!" "The shoes are produced at a union shop in Jakarta, Indonesia. The workers, represented by the SMTP, receive a benefit and pay package starting at some 785,000 rupiah per month. That's almost 30% above minimum wage in Indonesia, with 100% health care for employees and 80% coverage for family members. Plus a pension! Additional benefits include things less common in a western collective labour agreement, like a 30 litre a month rice allowance".

In the USA, No Sweat's co-founder, Jeff Ballinger said, "It's time for Nike to come clean with consumers. They've had 10 years to fix this problem and have spent all kinds of money assuring consumers that they have. Let's see what they've got.

All they need to do is put it in the shoebox".Ballinger wrote the original expose of Nike for Harper's Magazine in 1992.

While working in Indonesia for the AFL-CIO, he discovered one excellent union shop, producing shoes primarily for the local market. Twelve years later, that factory has became the source for No Sweat's new sneaker.

The fair trade sneaker comes at a fair price too. At $60 a pair, the No Sweat Sneaker is a competitive alternative to the Nike owned Converse All-Star as well as to any other sneaker or skateboard shoe in the market place. "It's not rocket science", said No Sweat's operations manager Anne O'Loughlin, who just returned from Jakarta after inspecting the union shop in person, "You give everyone--workers, consumers and investors--a fair share. Then you do it again the next day. Is there really any other sustainable business model?"

By William Keats posted 24 September 04


"Sew-in" in Athens to highlight problems faced by sportswear workers
Athens, August 10, 2004: The Play Fair at the Olympics campaign staged an action in Athens on the eve of the opening of the Olympic games in solidarity with sportswear workers worldwide.