The new sponsorship deal between Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo and Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has come under fire from NGOs advocating better conditions for textile workers in South East Asia.
The deal between Federer, formerly with Nike, and Uniqlo (who also sponsor Serbian player Novak Djokovic), surprised many when it was made public earlier this week at the outset of the Wimbledon Open.
Although the details of the contract remain unknown, the deal is reported to be worth some $300 million over the next ten years – more than double Federer’s previous deal with Nike.
Now, however, attention has been drawn to the working conditions of some 2,000 Indonesian textile workers whose factory went bankrupt a few months ago, following the cancellation of a deal with Uniqlo.
According to Swiss public broadcaster SRF, the workers have since been waiting in vain for the payment of outstanding salaries and remuneration.
SRF quotes a spokesman from the international Clean Clothes Campaign, David Hachfeld, who says that Uniqlo – along with other clients of the factory – did not properly assume its responsibility in ensuring that the workers were treated fairly.
It’s a recurring problem, said Hachfeld, that big firms do not hold themselves accountable for the conditions further down their supply chain. Then, “when something happens, the blame is quickly passed along to the other company in question”.
Uniqlo works with over 180 factories in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, and Indonesia.
According to Hachfeld, the fact that Federer – whose foundationexternal link works to improve educational prospects in Africa – is now associated with Uniqlo could potentially help the situation.
Neither Federer nor his management has yet commented.