Working standards of Adidias, Metro, Aldi in China (Study)

Yesterday, the German NGO “Südwind-Institut für Ökonomie und Ökumene” published a 90-pages study on the working conditions in Chinese factories. The study examines three large German companies, namely Adidas, Metro, Aldi, who are members of the FLA / BSCI. It presents the companies’ strategies and results regarding the working conditions in 2 factories producing for Adidas, 2 for Metro and 4 for Aldi – all in China. At least 10 workers were interviewed in each factory.

The study has the following major findings & conclusions:

  • There are large deficits between the aims of CSR and its reality, particularly regarding freedom of association and womens’ rights. This confirms findings of earlier studies (see: Barrientos & Smith 2006 / 2007).
  • Worst conditions were found in the factories supplying to Aldi – workers had to work up to 130 hours overtime a month.
  • In the factories supplying to Adidas the wages were higher than the minimum wages (660 instead of 570 Renminbi) – but the Asian Floor Wage demands a living wage of 1640 Renminbi (163 Euro).
  • The study concludes that voluntary CSR can contribute to awareness raising, but that effective changes in the working conditions must be achieved through state control.
  • The study suggests that local authorities in Germany should start to regard their partnerships with cities or provinces in China from a developmental policy perspective. In this perspective the study could be used, for instance, to engage in a social dialogue, education, school partnerships etc. It further suggests that civil society groups and consumers should demand sanctionable transparency and social standards from companies.

See also the article in the largest daily German quality paper (Süddeutsche Zeitung): China 130 Überstunden, unbezahlt – Monat für Monat

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