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Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Nike cuts off Saga for 'labor violation'

AP , BEAVERTON, OREGON

Nike Inc said on Monday that it was ending orders from a Pakistan-based supplier of hand-stitched soccer balls, Saga Sports, because of "significant" labor violations.

Nike said the decision to end its relationship with Saga followed a six-month investigation.

"This contract factory has persistently broken its commitments and irrevocably breached its trust with us; most importantly, the factory has failed its employees," Nike CEO Mark Parker said.

Nike, the world's largest maker of athletic apparel, said Saga Sports was having soccer balls made inside private homes in Sialkot, Pakistan, where the company is based.

"Nike has a long-standing policy against such practices because of the potential for using under-aged workers and the inability to ensure safe working conditions in home-based settings," the company said.

Nike said its investigation also uncovered "serious allegations by trade union representatives and other Saga employees of worker harassment, wrongful termination and inaccurate payment of wages."

It said the Fair Labor Association, in an unannounced audit of Saga unrelated to Nike's investigation, found similar violations.

According to Nike, it held repeated meetings with Saga executives to correct the problems, but Saga did not make needed changes.

The company said it is working with "governmental, non-governmental and industry stakeholders" to help protect the rights of Saga workers.

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