Adidas faces renewed criticism over its treatment of workers in the supply chain, as activist group Yes Men, in collaboration with labor organizations from the Pay Your Workers Coalition, orchestrates a second major hoax within a year. At the Web Summit in Lisbon, activists posing as Adidas representatives announced a virtual currency payment system for workers, creating a fictional "adiVerse" for virtual luxuries.
This follows a previous hoax during Berlin Fashion Week, where a false statement claimed the appointment of a former garment worker as co-CEO and hinted at Adidas signing the legally binding Pay Your Workers - Respect Labour Rights agreement.
The Pay Your Workers campaign targets Adidas for its failure to ensure full payments to workers during the pandemic, citing a 2021 report by Public Eye revealing over $11 million in pandemic-era wage theft owed to garment workers.
The Hulu Garment factory in Cambodia, producing Adidas clothes, has been embroiled in a dispute for more than $1 million in unpaid severance pay since April 2020. Activists criticize Adidas for prioritizing sponsorships, like the FIFA Qatar debacle, over workers' rightful claims in countries such as Cambodia and Indonesia.
Christie Miedema, from Clean Clothes Campaign, accuses Adidas of neglecting workers' rights and failing to guarantee fair wages, particularly for women of color in the supply chain. Despite ongoing calls and protests, Adidas has not signed the Pay Your Workers agreement, leaving workers vulnerable in times of crisis.
The Yes Men's actions align with persistent pressure on Adidas since 2022, with global labor rights organizations urging the company to address issues and prioritize fair compensation for workers.