Adidas made history Friday as the first college-logo brand to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding contract that will hold the sportswear giant accountable for the safety and labor conditions of the factories it employs in the South Asian nation. The company’s move was hailed a victory by United Students Against Sweatshops, which mobilized demonstrations at more than 30 colleges across the country this week to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse outside Dhaka.
Adidas’s announcement is all the more surprising because of its strained relationship with labor-rights activists. Organizations such as the Clean Clothes Campaign, War on Want, Worker Rights Consortium, and even USAS itself have remonstrated the firm in the past for its alleged complicity in the low wages, abysmal conditions, and physical and verbal abuse many overseas garment workers face.
Adidas’s announcement is all the more surprising because of its strained relationship with labor-rights activists.
The pledge also comes six months after Adidas agreed to pay $1.8 million in severance to the former employees of the now-defunct PT Kizone factory in Indonesia. USAS protestors led the largest collegiate boycott of a top-three sportswear brand to date, with 17 colleges and universities ending their Adidas contracts during the “Badidas” campaign in February.
“Now that Adidas has signed the accord, all eyes are on VF Corporation, Nike, Top of the World, and other players in the collegiate apparel industry who have shirked responsibility,” USAS says in a statement. “With over 100 brands and retailers signed on to the accord, these brands are running out of excuses.”
Puma was an early adopter of the safety pact, which it signed in June.