All Black jersey makers paying some workers 60c per hour - Oxfam

By Michael Dickison

The new jersey costs $220 here and $104 in the US. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The new jersey costs $220 here and $104 in the US. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Adidas is trying to block cheap imports of the new All Blacks jersey to New Zealand - and is paying the people who make their products as little as 60c an hour.

Furious All Black fans are calling for price cuts after it was revealed that the World Cup jerseys on sale here for $220 could be bought for $104 from the United States.

Non-profit organisations such as Oxfam have highlighted the fact that many factories used by Adidas pay their workers poverty wages while making huge profits.

Oxfam, Play Fair and China Labor Watch say wages at Adidas factories in Asia are as low as 60c an hour.

The Rugby World Cup-branded jerseys are made in Thailand, and the non-tournament All Blacks jerseys are made in China, where Adidas has come under scrutiny for poor wages.

Adidas's response last year to concerns about low wages at its factory in Indonesia was that the company promoted "improved wage-setting mechanisms" to ensure fair payment.

It did not set industry wages, which were closely linked to the minimum wage.

Oxfam New Zealand executive director Barry Coates said wages had remained at the bare minimum, although the worst abuses in sporting brands' sweatshop had waned in recent years because of publicity.

"It seems rather obscene that all of the value is being captured by the rugby union and Adidas and none of the value is being captured by the workers who are at minimum wage or close to it," Mr Coates said.

"That's not fair. The fair way to do it is to share the value up the supply chain because people can understand that if you can sell things for higher prices, then surely people who make them should have a share of the higher price."

Meanwhile, Adidas New Zealand's country manager David Huggett told Radiosport the company was looking to enforce cross-border agreements to stop overseas retailers from selling to New Zealand residents.

It was investigating worldrugbyshop.com - a US retailer selling jerseys for just over $100 - over selling merchandise to Kiwis, he said.

"Under our cross-border agreement they have the right to ship products within their border but not overseas, and we're certainly taking that very seriously because we want to support New Zealand retailing," Mr Huggett said.

"We believe that New Zealand retailing is fantastic for the New Zealand consumer. If we continue to encourage people to purchase products overseas all that's going to happen is New Zealand retailing will fall apart."

He earlier said prices in New Zealand were set "relative to the local market".

"The price they pay overseas is largely driven against currency fluctuation which has changed quite significantly over the last couple of years."

Rebel Sport managing director Rod Duke said retailers' had only slim margins - about 7 per cent - on their stock.

Margins were the same whether they sold a $220 jersey or $20 T-shirt, Mr Duke said.

That left "absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever" to drop prices.

The jerseys are also on sale at slight discounts on Trade Me, where the Rugby World Cup-branded shirt is available for instant purchase at $190.

Trade Me spokesman Paul Ford said there should be no issues over selling overseas products on Trade Me.

"Our understanding is that parallel importing is definitely a goer. As long as there are no dramas over intellectual property rights and they are sourced from overseas rather than local suppliers and so on, there's going to be no problem on Trade Me."

New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew said the price gap between countries gave buyers a choice.

"The key for us is that people want to buy the jersey - whether they choose to do it online [from the US or Britain] or in a store is for the individual to decide," Mr Tew told Radiosport.

The German headquarters of adidas directed all inquiries to its New Zealand representatives - who in turn directed them back to Germany.

WHAT YOU CAN PAY

Prices for All Blacks World Cup jerseys (in NZ dollars)

* $220 from NZ retailer

* $104 from the US, including shipping

* $190 on Trade Me

* $190 for Wallabies jersey (made by KooGa)


- NZ Herald

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