Temple students hoping to get the university to stop selling sweatshirts made in overseas sweatshops are gaining ground.
Two people who worked in an Indonesia factory producing clothing for Adidas told students Wednesday about how the factory closed without paying workers the $1.8 million of severance that Indonesian law required Adidas to pay.
Speaking through a translator, Aslam Hidayat said he and other former workers have struggled in poverty since then.
“Money can help us pay for our housing. Money can help us pay for our children’s school fees,” he said. “Money can buy us food and money can help us pay our debts to money lenders that we had before the factory closed.”
The crowd of 85 students included many who were new to the issues of sweat shops and their use by mainstream American brands.
“We don’t see fault in you if you wear these clothes, even though they have the sweat of our labors in them,” Hidayat said. “The problem is the system. The problem is Adidas.”
The students marched to the university president’s office, demanding that Temple drop its contract with Adidas. They were stopped at the door by a security guard, who quickly called for re-enforcement from the campus police.
While the group of students waited outside, leader Amy Kessel spoke with campus administrators, who promised to start using only apparel makers approved by an anti-sweatshop watchdog group.
“We had a conversation where they agreed that they would affiliate at next fiscal year with the Worker Rights Consortium and at that time they would issue a letter to Adidas stating that students are concerned about their practices,” Kessel said.
Kessel says the fight will not be over until the workers get paid.