Ivanka Trump’s apparel brand is facing criticism from a labor-rights group for relying on Chinese factories that it says force some employees to work long shifts at the equivalent of about a dollar an hour.
The 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 1/2 hours a day and at least six days a week — at a monthly salary of about 2,500 yuan ($363).
The letter didn’t 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 and added 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 emailed 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 Ivanka Trump’s brand and its use of offshore production. When campaigning for 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, said Li Qiang, founder of New York-based China Labor Watch. The staff must work overtime to reach the target with no extra pay if the quota isn’t met, according to Li, whose group probed the two facilities between May 2016 and April 2017. Some workers get the equivalent of less than $1 per hour, he said.
Staff is given one or two days off per month during the peak season at both facilities, according to the group. And there’s no safety training, even though employees are in contact with oils and glues during the production, the organization said.
Li estimates that the branded-products make up less than 5 percent of both facilities’ total orders.by Stephanie Hoi-Nga Wong