Thu, 05 Oct 2000

Nike's sound of silence

On Sept. 5 this newspaper carried a news report on Mr. Jim Keady's attempt to replicate the lifestyle (if it can be called that) of Nike's Indonesian workers, and his criticism of Nike Indonesia's labor practices. On Sept. 11 Nike's Indonesia manager Mr. Tony Naha replied to Keady's criticism, and in a Sept. 13 article I questioned Nike's rebuttal, specifically its wage policy for local workers. I asked Nike to present some financial data to support their position that their system was just.

Since Nike had already opened the door to this area of discussion by claiming publicly that their wage policy is fair and reasonable, it seemed reasonable to ask the company to explain publicly whether their wage system is based on responsible financial considerations. To date Nike has not responded.

Silence in response to a categorical question is construed in the law as assent. Should we then assume that Nike's silence is a tacit acknowledgement that the wages of local workers are unconscionably low? And what will be the Indonesian government's response to Nike's silent admission that they cannot defend their exploitation of Indonesian workers? Unfortunately, this is one nationalism issue that does not yet seem to interest the politicians.


Medan, North Sumatra