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Nike responds to television exposure

Aug. 5, 2008 at 5:30 PM

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Oregon shoe maker Nike is helping workers at a Malaysian factory after an Australian television station exposed the working conditions there, sources said.

Nike is arranging for approved housing and trips home for some workers at the Hytex Group T-shirt factory near Kuala Lumpur. A recent television report exposed sub-standard living conditions and said workers had their passports withheld, The Oregonian reported Tuesday.

"As long as they continue to pay sweatshop prices, they're going to continue to get sweatshop conditions," Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium told The Oregonian.

The debate over abusive factory conditions overseas has plagued Nike since the 1990s. Nike says work abroad helps foreign economies, the newspaper said.

Nike also says it has little clout at factories where Nike holds only one of many contracts.

"The real way to address this is for the brands to collaborate," Nike spokeswoman Erin Dobson said.

The company is inspecting 37 factories in Malaysia, but activists said Nike was not alone.

"Nike is neither alone nor the worst in Malaysia or Vietnam, said Trung Doan, general secretary of the Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers.

"We plan to name and shame some more," Doan said.

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