WRC Assessment of Hansae Vietnam (Nike)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Ben Hensler
Date:May 6, 2016
Re:WRC Assessment of Hansae Vietnam (Nike)

At this link, please find the WRC’s preliminary report of our investigation of labor practices at Hansae Vietnam, which produces university logo goods for Nike. As many of you are aware, after workers launched a strike at this factory in October, the WRC asked Nike to facilitate access so that we could conduct an on-site inspection; Nike refused to do so. Through off-site worker interviews, however, the WRC has been able to gather sufficient evidence to reach findings on a number of labor rights issues.

Based on credible, mutually corroborated testimony from Hansae employees, the WRC has identified the following violations of university labor standards at this factory:

  • Reckless management practices that endanger workers’ health, including extremely high production quotas, relentless pressure on workers to speed production, insufficient rest breaks, and excessive heat in factory buildings – resulting in substantial numbers of workers fainting from exhaustion at their work stations
  • Verbal harassment of workers, including yelling, swearing, and profane insults
  • Degrading restrictions on workers’ use of the factory’s toilets
  • Other forms of harassment and abuse, including forbidding workers from yawning and subjecting them to disciplinary action when they do so
  • Denial of legally guaranteed sick leave
  • Forced overtime
  • Firing of pregnant workers

It is important to note that Nike’s unwillingness to facilitate access to the factory has limited the WRC’s inquiry. With respect to some of the labor rights abuses we have identified, we have not been able to determine the exact scope and extent of the violations. And, on some issues, while we have identified some evidence of unlawful practices from worker testimony, we have not been able to reach firm findings – these include physical abuse of workers, off-the-clock work, denial of family leave, fire safety hazards, and the serving of spoiled food to workers. A clear determination as to whether these violations exist requires access to the factory and its records.

It is also important to note that the strike that took place at Hansae Vietnam last October, which Nike told universities was the result of a minor “miscommunication,” was in fact the product of employees’ outrage over management’s chronic mistreatment of them – including the verbal abuse, the harassment of workers trying to use the bathroom, the relentless production pressure and its effects on workers’ health, and management’s bizarre prohibition on yawning. The gap between the reassuring portrait Nike has painted of this facility and the harsh reality revealed through candid worker interviews underscores the importance of independent monitoring. A licensee’s own reports about what is happening in its factories can too easily be colored by the desire to downplay or obscure unpleasant realities.

The WRC will share this preliminary report with Nike and we will reiterate to Nike our request for its assistance in gaining immediate access to Hansae Vietnam – so that we can determine the full extent of the violations of university labor codes and develop a comprehensive and robust plan for corrective action. We are committed to working with all parties to address the labor rights issues at this factory.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about this report.

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