News & Runway

Factory Workers Making Ivanka Trump’s Line Reveal Unethical Working Conditions

Ivanka Trump; Image: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Ivanka Trump, paid family leave champion; Image: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Scrutiny of Ivanka Trump’s clothing label has — understandably — intensified ever since her father took office. The House Judiciary Committee reviews prospective deals and helps ensure that the First Daughter’s company doesn’t use her political influence to benefit her private interests. Meanwhile, the Fair Labor Association and news outlets have been taking a hard look at the factory conditions where Trump’s clothing line is manufactured. Spoiler alert: They’re totally unacceptable.

In April, the Washington Post reported that an inspection of a China-based factory used by G-III (the apparel group responsible for making and distributing the Ivanka Trump line) found 24 labor violations. Now, The Guardian reports that an Indonesia-based garment factory that produces Trump’s line is also guilty of abusing its workers.

The British news publication interviewed over a dozen employees at the PT Buma Apparel Industry factory in Subang, West Java, which supplies several fashion labels, among them Ivanka Trump. The workers told of verbal abuse, low wages, unpaid overtime and impossibly high production targets.

Laborers reported being called “animals,” “morons” and “monkeys” by their managers. Most of the workers make the legal minimum wage, which equates to about $173 a month. Still, this amount is below minimum wage in most parts of Indonesia — and in China, laborers can make up to 40 percent more.

To top it off, the company sets extremely high production targets (58 to 92 garments per period, even though, realistically speaking, workers can make around 27 to 40 garments in the time allotted). Managers then force workers to stay late to meet production demands — and don’t compensate them for their time. “The management is getting smarter: they tap out our ID cards at 4pm so you can’t prove anything,” revealed one interviewee.

Of the factories’ 2,759 employees, around three-quarters are women. Only around 200 of the workers belong to a union and receive benefits. Many of the laborers are contract workers. Thus, they’re dismissed without severance after their contract expires. Before religious holidays like Ramadan, the powers that be opt to fire workers rather than give them paid time off. They’re rehired after the holiday season passes. Mothers can’t afford to live with the children. It’s beyond unethical.

It’s worth noting that, as of January, Ivanka Trump no longer oversees the day-to-day management of her brand. However, she still receives payouts from its profits, and it’s still her name on the label, so she could, theoretically, check G-III’s practices. Ivanka Trump’s PR team declined to comment on The Guardian article. (In the past, the paid family leave advocate has called G-III “a trusted partner for some of the world’s finest and most visible brands.”)

“Ivanka Trump claims to be the ultimate destination for Women Who Work, but this clearly doesn’t extend to the women who work for her in factories around the world,” Carry Somers, founder of laborer advocacy nonprofit Fashion Revolution, told The Guardian.

Of course, Ivanka Trump isn’t the first big-name brand to get called out for problematic (to put it lightly) production practices. Nor will it be the last. (Case in point: Just today, Dazed pointed the finger at Zara, H&M and Marks & Spencer, all of which “were buying viscose from factories with questionable working practices in Indonesia, China and India.”) However, given that Trump is a self-professed ally of working mothers, her failure to address these allegations seems especially hypocritical.

[ via The Guardian ]