Fri, May 19, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Ivanka Trump brand uses cheap China labor: group

Bloomberg

Ivanka Trump’s apparel brand is facing criticism from a labor rights group for relying on Chinese factories that it said force some employees to work long shifts at the equivalent of about US$1 per hour.

New York-based nonprofit organization China Labor Watch said it investigated two Chinese factories that produce goods for Ivanka Trump’s brand.

It then shared its findings in a letter sent to the first daughter, saying employees are forced to work at least 12-and-a-half hours per day and at least six days per week — at a monthly salary of about 2,500 yuan (US$362.71).

The letter did not provide evidence for the claims, and the group declined to identify the factories and the items they make, saying its probe was still underway.

China Labor Watch previously identified labor violations at a Chinese toymaker used by Walt Disney Co, leading the entertainment giant to sever ties with the factory. It has also investigated plants used by Apple Inc.

China Labor Watch said it has yet to receive a response from the letter, which was dated April 27.

Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said the company complies with labor standards, adding that it is “impossible for us to respond to allegations, with no supporting evidence, concerning an unnamed factory.”

“Ivanka Trump HQ is committed to only working with licensees who maintain internationally recognized labor standards across their supply chains,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “Our licensees and their manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers must comply with all applicable local and international labor laws, and the legal and ethical practices set forth in our vendor code of conduct.”

The criticism threatens to renew questions over Trump’s brand and its use of offshore production.

When on the campaign trail, now-US President Donald Trump made the restoration of domestic manufacturing a key tenet of his platform.

Since then, his daughter has stepped away from overseeing her brand in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest. She is now an unpaid federal employee, serving as an assistant to the president.

At one Chinese factory that produces Ivanka Trump-branded goods, workers are paid according to the number of pieces they make, China Labor Watch founder Li Qiang (李強) said.

Staff must work overtime to reach the target with no extra pay if the quota is not met, said Li, whose group probed the two facilities between May last year and last month.

Some workers get the equivalent of less than US$1 per hour, he said.

Staff are given one or two days off per month during the peak season at both facilities, the group said, adding that there is no safety training, even though employees are in contact with oils and glues during production.

Li estimated that the branded products make up less than 5 percent of both facilities’ total orders.

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