Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

London, Dec 1st 2012

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Adidas ‘Pay Your Workers’

December 1st 2012 was a Saturday and another busy day for protests over various issues in London. The poor are always with us because employers pay rock-bottom wages, even those who sell high-priced goods on London’s premier shopping streets.

But the protest outside Adidas in Oxford Street was not about the poorly paid staff in their store, but about the workers who make their sportswear in Indonesia who make the sportswear they sell and who have not been paid what Adidas owe them for over a year.

The PT Kizone factory in Indonesia had been making sportswear for Adidas, Nike and Dallas Cowboys for many years with many workers being on pitifully low wages, many being paid as little as US $0.60 an hour (37p), hardly enough to keep them alive. But in January 2011 the factory owner fled and the factory closed in April 2011 and the 2,800 workers were left with no jobs.

Under Indonesian law they were entitled to severance pay, a total of around US$2.8 million (about £1.74 million) and the three companies for whom they had made goods for many years were obliged to share the payments. Both Nike and Dallas Cowboys agreed to pay up, but Adidas are refusing to pay the $1.8 million (£1.12 million) they owe, despite a worldwide campaign with a 50,000 signature petition and 5000 posts on their Facebook page demanding they pay.

On December 1st there were protests outside Adidas stores in London and other cities in the UK, with some protesters wearing masks with the face of Justin Bieber, who is the ‘global style icon’ for their NEO label. The protesters point out that Adidas were “happy to pay their $157m to sponsor the Olympics, but won’t pay 1% of that to avoid the destitution of those that made them their profits.”

Adidas ‘Pay Your Workers’


Free West Papua Independence Day

A short distance away at the Indonesian Embassy in Grosvenor Square another protest was taking place against the Indonesian occupation of West Papua in 1962.

On December 1st 1961, West Papua had been set on the road to independence by the Dutch. The Netherlands had controlled the area since 1898 except during the wartime Japanese occupation. Indonesia had become independent in 1945 and claimed all of the Dutch territories in the area, leading to a long-running dispute between the two countries, and just over two weeks later began moving troops into West Papua, and were in the whole area by the end of the following year. But it was due to the United States fear of Soviet influence in Indonesia that the Dutch finally temporarily transferred the control of the region to Indonesian government as a part of the New York Agreement, which called for a later UN referendum on the future of the country.

This referendum took place in 1969, and although called the Act of Free Choice, involved voting by 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military who unsurprisingly voted unanimously in favour of Indonesian control. Since then the Free Papua movement has worked to gain independence both by peaceful protest and international pressure but also by guerilla warfare.
Free West Papua Independence Day

Morsi’s Dicatatorial Decree

The Egyptian Embassy is short distance to the south in Mayfair, and in front of it there were over 50 protesters shouting noisily condemning the decree by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and calling him a dictator. A few yards down the street, separated by police was a protest by 5 of supporters of his action.

This was one of widespread protests in Egypt and around the world which led to the president announcing the decree would be scrapped a week later. But he proceeded with bringing in a new constitution which was described by many as an ‘Islamist Coup’ and was approved by a referendum later in the month.


Morsi’s Dicatatorial Decree

Climate March Says ‘NO’ to Fracking

The day’s largest event also started in Mayfair, outside the US Embassy, still in Grosvenor Square. It was the Global Day of Action on Climate Change, and the protest focused attention on the dangers of using shale oil and tar sands for energy, both of which would lead to excessive global warming and make reaching the targets set for carbon emissions impossible.

The US embassy was chosen for the starting rally as the dirty energy lobby in the USA, led by companies including the Koch Brothers, has succeeded in making the US the main barrier to effective climate action over the years.

After the rally they began to lay a mock pipeline from the US Embassy to the Canadian Canadian High Commission at the opposite end of Grosvenor Square to show their outrage at the continued exploitation of high-carbon tar sands. They had brought an impressive number of long pipes for the purpose, but they were not allowed to lay them in the direct route across the square, so didn’t quite make it going around the outside.

The thousand or so marchers then set off towards Parliament Square while I went to cover some of the events elsewhere before meeting them again in Parliament Square just before they erected a mock fracking rig with the message ‘No Fracking in the UK’. After this the rally there continued with speeches from Eve Macnamara from REAF (Ribble Estuary against Fracking), John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) and Natalie Bennett (leader, Green party).

Climate March Says ‘NO’ to Fracking


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A Hero Remembered, Olympics and Iraq

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Some photographers love to travel, but I relish the great variety of events I have been able to photograph in London, (as well as the city itself.) Saturday 4th August 2012 demonstrates that well.

Raoul Wallenberg was clearly one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, and played a huge role while working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in 1944-5. Historians now question the popular claims that he saved as many as 100,000 Jews and suggest the actual figure may be between 4,500 and 9,000, but as one of them commented, his “fame was certainly justified by his extraordinary exploits.”

Wallenberg and his fellow Swedish diplomat Per Anger issued thousand of official-looking “protective passports” identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens and rented over 30 buildings in Budapest which he declared to be Swedish territory. According to Wikipedia these eventually housed almost 10,000 people. The money for these came from the American Red Cross and it was apparently at US request that Wallenberg was posted to Budapest.

Wallenberg was not the only diplomat in Budapest issuing protective passports to save Jews, with others being provided with Swiss, Spanish and Portuguese documents. He is also said to have persuaded the Germans not to blow up the Budapest ghetto and kill its 70,000 inhabitants, though the Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca who was posing as the Spanish consul-general claims that it was his intervention that saved them

Swedish Ambassador Nicola Clase speaks about Wallenberg

Wallenberg disappeared on 17th January 1945 after being summoned to see the commander of the Russian forces encircling the city to answer charges he was involved in espionage. He was taken to Moscow and little definite is known about him after than although the Soviet Government in 1957 released a document stating he had died in prison, probably of a heart attack on 17 July 1947. But there were later reported sightings of him. Documents released in 1996 by the CIA show he was working with their wartime predecessor.

Wallenberg was born on August 4th 1912, and a ceremony took place in his honour around the Wallenberg memorial, sculpted by Philip Jackson outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. It was a moving event, led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld with Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church in London reading Psalm 121 and giving an address about Wallenburg who he called an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and had followed the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people. The Swedish ambassador also spoke about him.

Earlier I had been at the Olympics. Not the thing on Stratford Marsh, but a rather smaller event organised by War on Want outside Adidas on Oxford St, claiming that workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

War on Want point out that around the world thousands of workers producing clothes for Adidas are working for poverty wages that do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare. Many have to work beyond legal limits, up to 15 hours a day to scrape a living. And workers who try to organise trade unions face harassment and sacking.

The games began with badminton, and then moved on to hurdles, but police told them it was too dangerous on the pavement in Oxford St. They were made to move around the corner. Adidas sent along someone from their PR Agency to give misinformation to the press, but there was damning information on the War on Want web site on wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. I don’t expect things have changed that much for these workers since 2012.

Finally I made my way to Iraq Day 2012, “organized to celebrate the games with a hint of Iraq flavor” by the Iraqi Culture Centre in London and sponsored by Bayt Al Hekima- Baghdad in conjunction with the Local Leader London 2012 program.

There were some unplanned and fairly dramatic events on stage, and one of the performers stormed off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds, and a group of Kurdish musicians were told they had to leave the stage, but generally it lacked much interest for me.

I was sorry for the many Iraqis and others who were unable to eat the Iraqi food that was on offer – for this event was taking place during Ramadan. I had been asked to photograph a fashion show that was a part of the programme, but for some reason it didn’t take place when it should have, and I had to leave before it happened.

More on all of these:

Iraq Day Festival
Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary
Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation


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