Update on Hansae, Nike, and Factory Access

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova
Date:July 29, 2016
Re:Update on Hansae, Nike, and Factory Access

Your institution may have received a letter yesterday from Nike concerning the Hansae Vietnam factory. As you know, the WRC has, since October, been seeking access to Hansae to carry out an onsite labor rights inspection. The WRC’s identification, through offsite interviews, of violations of university labor standards, including violations that seriously endanger workers’ health, has underscored the importance of our gaining access to inspect the factory.

As Nike indicated in its communication yesterday, the company has now agreed to facilitate access for the WRC to the factory, which Nike will accomplish through an arrangement with the Fair Labor Association. This is an important step which reaffirms the right of universities to verify compliance with their labor standards, via their chosen monitors. We appreciate Nike’s cooperation and we look forward to working with the company to resolve the university code violations at the factory and improve conditions for workers – as Nike and the WRC have been able to do in other cases in the past.

Representatives of Nike and the FLA will be present during the WRC’s onsite inspection: as we have explained previously, the WRC is comfortable with Nike having its own staff, and/or factory monitors it prefers, present when the WRC is in one of its factories, as long as all of the parties are able to carry out their work. The WRC also supports cooperation between the WRC and the FLA on this case, particularly on remediation of labor rights violations – to the extent that we reach similar findings, of course.

The organizations have also agreed to share information from their respective investigations, including information the FLA, which has had extensive access to Hansae, has already gathered onsite. On issues where the findings of the two organizations are comparable, and where the WRC determines that information the FLA has gathered is sufficient, in combination with the WRC’s data, to support those findings, the WRC will be able to forego duplicative evidence gathering and make the process of onsite work more efficient. 

The plan outlined above was agreed at a meeting with Nike this week, convened by Georgetown University, and attended by the WRC, the FLA, and the University of Washington. We appreciate Georgetown’s initiative in convening and hosting this discussion.

I am hopeful that we will now be able to move expeditiously to schedule the WRC’s visit to Hansae Vietnam. Assuming we are able to do so, this will be a major step forward with respect to Hansae. 

This does not, however, resolve the broader question of whether Nike will, in the future, facilitate factory access for the WRC, without unreasonable restrictions – as other licensees regularly do. Georgetown and the University of Washington have indicated their intent to host another meeting with Nike, later in the year, to discuss this issue, which the WRC will attend. Until there is a commitment from Nike to provide access in all cases where it is needed, full and effective verification of the company’s compliance with university standards will not be possible.We appreciate – and, indeed, rely upon – the ongoing efforts of WRC affiliate universities to help achieve a positive resolution to this issue, one that ensures that the WRC has the factory access it needs to assess compliance with universities’ labor standards and to help remedy violations where they exist.

Scott Nova 
Worker Rights Consortium 
5 Thomas Circle NW, 5th Floor 
Washington DC 20005 
ph  202 387 4884 
fax 202 387 3292 
[email protected]