Sporting goods manufacturer Nike is cutting its international workforce in order to reduce labour costs.
But, as the Financial Times reports, the move is also likely to reduce the criticism the company receives for its treatment of workers in developing nations. Such criticism has been levelled at Nike since the 1990s.
Nike’s chief financial officer Don Blair noted the impact of wage increases in Indonesia and said the company is aiming to reduce the size of the workforce making its goods.
“I think the longer-term solution to addressing a lot of these labour costs has really been engineering the labour out of the product and that really is with technology and innovation,” Blair said.
In recent times, there has been renewed criticism of the working conditions experienced by workers in developing nations producing products for Western clothing brands.
For example, the memory of the collapse of a Bangladeshi garment factory which killed over 1,000 workers is still fresh.
As News.com.au reports, in May there was a police crackdown on workers at one Nike’s suppliers in Cambodia. It was reported that a pregnant women miscarried during the incident and other people were injured.
At the time, Nike called for an inquiry into the crackdown. The company's vice president Hannah Jones said that the Cambodian government should "open an inquiry using credible, independent third parties to determine the cause of the incident."
However, rights groups said that Nike was only responding to pressure.