By Angela Lovely

Women holding banner at protest outside Nike store.
Medals awarded to sportswear companies for failing to play fair with the very people who make their goods.

Gender equality campaign group UK Feminista held a protest today (31 March) outside the Nike Town store at Oxford Circus in support of Bangladeshi garment workers.

In a mock medal ceremony the protesters awarded “cheat” medals to sportswear companies Adidas, Nike and Puma.

The demonstration comes in the wake of  research by UK charity War on Want, and a report by The Observer newspaper which said “Workers producing sportswear for Olympic sponsors Adidas, Nike and Puma are beaten, verbally abused, underpaid and overworked in Bangladeshi sweatshops.”

UK Feminista said they were protesting in solidarity with “Bangladeshi garment workers, 85 percent of whom are women, are being cheated of their maternity rights, face sexual harassment, and receive poverty pay”.

In the report entitled, Race to the Bottom: Olympic sportswear companies’ exploitation of Bangladeshi workers, John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, said:

For multinational sportswear companies, the Olympics represent a unique opportunity to market their goods to worldwide audiences and to associate their brands with the spirit of the Games. No other sporting event offers such a positive image of capitalist enterprise in the service of a higher purpose. Yet behind the gloss and glamour, many of these same
companies are failing to play fair with the very people who make their goods.