Nike’s plan to renew its funding for a group that is charged with monitoring its factory policies and conditions raises a number of questions about how independent-and effective-such groups can be in their pursuit of fair treatment for millions of factory workers overseas.

Nike last week acknowledged that it will extend its current “partnership” with the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities, a factory-monitoring organization. NKE began support of the organization in 1999, with plans to give $7.7 million to the group over five years.

The additional $1.5 million infusion would extend the deal through 2009.

Many critics call into question the credibility of these groups, doubting the independence and effectiveness of organizations funded by the same companies that are contracting with overseas factories.

“An organization funded by brands certainly requires any observer to look with a somewhat skeptical eye, for obvious reasons,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium in an AP release. “That doesn’t mean a brand can’t be engaged in positive work.”

WRC said it takes no money from companies it monitors.