Labor-rights activists want Selena Gomez to “be an ambassador for children, not for sweatshops.” Protestors from United Students Against Sweatshops ambushed the former Disney starlet at New York Fashion Week on Thursday at the first runway show for Neo by Adidas, a teen-oriented diffusion label for which Gomez serves as style ambassador. Outside the midtown Manhattan venue, a group of 15 people, including two former sweatshop workers, held up a banner that read, “Selena: Don’t be an ambassador for sweatshops.” A woman also handed the 20-year-old UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador a flier urging her to tell Adidas to pay its Indonesian workers $1.8 million in severance so they can feed their children and send them to school.
It’s been 22 months since PT Kizone, an Adidas subcontractor in Indonesia, shut down without paying “legally mandated” severance to its 2,800 workers, according to the student-run organization, which has affiliate groups at over 150 universities, including Cornell, which made the historic move in September of severing business ties with the sportswear manufacturer over labor rights.
PT Kizone, an Adidas subcontractor in Indonesia, still owes $1.8 million in “legally mandated” severance to its 2,800 workers, says USAS.
In a letter to Gomez dated January 29, Bill Yates, a regional organizer for USAS, wrote that the company has refused to pay “a single cent in severance,” and as a result, workers have had to pull their children out of school or leave their homes. More than two-thirds are still out of work, he said.
“To evade responsibility for severance, Adidas has offered food vouchers as ‘humanitarian aid,’ an act that workers call ‘insulting,'” he added. “These vouchers are not equivalent to actual money, either under Indonesian law or in workers’ everyday lives; many workers have been forced to sell the vouchers for amounts below their face value in order to raise funds to pay obligations such as debt and school fees. PT Kizone workers have remained steadfast in demanding what they are legally owed: severance that amounts to a mere drop in the bucket for Adidas.”
Still, Gomez appeared unfazed by the attention. Taking to her Twitter account later that night, she wrote, “Amazing show for @adidasNEOLabel tonight!! They looked amazing. #NEOrunway :))”
[Via Us Weekly]