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Although Nike has gone to great lengths in recent years to improve working conditions in overseas factories, a former labor party president in Thailand says the brand took advantage of contracted workers following 2008's Great Recession.
As reported by Purdue Exponent, former factory worker Noi Supalai—who the publication incorrectly pegs as a former Nike employee—recently spoke at Purdue University to shed light on what went down behind the scenes following the economy's downturn.
"[In] the year 2008, when the economy wasn’t good, the factories started to receive fewer orders from brands, and they [started] to lose some profits," Supalai said, claiming that the brand responded by forcing workers to manufacture shoes quicker than before for even less money. "The deal that Nike wanted to make with the factory was that if the factory wants the orders for Nike, it has to be able to produce in a shorter time frame with lower costs."
According to Supalai, if factories were not able to meet Nike's demands, their contracts—and employee wages—were suspended indefinitely. She said that the brand's new quotas caused her normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift to turn into a grueling 8 a.m. to midnight stretch, which meant Supalai often had to eat, shower, and sleep at the factory.
Now, Supalai is hoping to persuade Purdue to reconsider its Nike sponsorship. While it may seem unlikely, she's already got the support of groups like the Worker Rights Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops.
Read more about Supalai's experience at Purdue Exponent.