In an aim to cut down on labor costs, Nike's slashing its international workforce. But the move could have other benefits as well: Cutting down on criticism over the way the retailer treats its workers.
Don Blair, Nike's chief financial officer, told the Financial Times that the company is "engineering the labour out" of some of its products by replacing workers with technology. As the FT notes, fewer employees in precarious working conditions abroad will likely mean fewer complaints over the way Nike treats its foreign workers.
As recently as 2011 Nike faced allegations of employee abuse and unfair wages in Indonesia. But the company isn't the only Western retailer to face criticism over how its drive for profits can result in poor conditions for foreign workers. After a factory collapsed in Bangladesh earlier this year, killing more than 1,000 workers, labor activists blamed American and European retailers for emphasizing quick and cheap production instead of safe working conditions in Bangladesh garment factories.
But it's not just international workers who are suffering in corporations' drive for profits. Earlier this month, U.S. workers suffered their biggest pay drop on record, even as corporate profits have soared.
Update: Nike emailed the following statement to The Huffington Post:
Nike is a growth company and while new efficient technologies will be progressively introduced as we innovate in product and design we also expect to rely on our existing supply chain. We will continue using productivity programs, such as Lean Manufacturing and Human Resources Management, to help our partners achieve efficiencies and evolve the skills and capabilities of their workers as our volumes grow. An engaged contract factory workforce will be required and Nike remains firmly committed to requiring contract factories to uphold our Code of Conduct governing the conditions under which Nike product is manufactured.
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