Monday, June 14, 2010

PS on soccer balls

So according to Adidas, the men's World Cup balls are being manufactured in southern China. There is a minimum wage guarantee of 103 pounds with many workers earning more than that--sometimes double. And as I reported (and as you can see in the video from the other day) the ball is not stitched. It is "thermally bonded."

But...and you knew there was a but...these conditions are the ones for the actual balls being used right now in South Africa. They are tournament balls. There are, of course, replicas being made for resale. Those are being made in Pakistan, where 70 percent of the world's hand-stitched soccer balls are put together--by workers who make no more than 2 pounds a day. It takes over two hours to stitch one soccer ball.
This is what an Adidas spokesperson had to say:

“These people have a hard life because they live in rural Pakistan, but they themselves don’t think that they are living in poverty. We pay far more than agricultural work for example. It is an informal economy, a cottage industry, but we are doing all we can in that economy to support these workers.”

According to one worker The Guardian spoke with, they know they are living in poverty. It's so condescending for this guy to suggest that Adidas is doing rural Pakistanis a favor. (He also points out earlier that they like making these balls for Adidas--they are proud to do so.)
And by the way, Pakistan does have a minimum wage law. These workers may earn minimum wage if they indeed get paid the daily 1.85 pounds Adidas says it pays them. They also have to work 6 days a week to earn it. And the minimum wage is only half the estimated living wage in the country.

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