Though Donald Trump has promised to keep jobs in America, and Ivanka Trump has claimed that improving conditions for working women is her “life’s mission,” the labor practices of the Ivanka Trump brand suggest very much the opposite. Drawing on data from U.S. customs and shipping records, in addition to interviews with garment factory workers, the Washington Post has published an investigative report into her brand that sheds more light on the working conditions of garment workers in Asia, who are under-paid and overworked with few protections.
Though Ivanka has relinquished the day-to-day operations of the brand, she remains the company’s owner. The brand’s labor practices have come under scrunity in recent months after three activists in China were arrested while investigating conditions at factories in China which make shirts and bags for the Ivanka Trump brand.
The Post interviewed one woman who works at PT Buma, a factory in Indonesia that made Ivanka Trump dresses that shipped to the US the week of the inauguration.:
K., a 26-year-old sewing-machine operator, told The Post that she makes the equivalent of $173 a month, the region’s minimum wage. Her full name, like that of other workers, is being withheld by The Post because the workers fear being punished or fired for speaking to the media.
She said she spends $23 to rent her small studio in the bustling factory town of Subang, where she sleeps on a mattress on the floor and hangs her clothes from a string hung along the wall.
She saves the rest for her 2-year-old daughter but worries she will not be able to afford elementary school fees, which can cost as much as $225 a year.
A representative from the factory told the Post, however that the factory does not make Ivanka Trump clothing anymore and abruptly ended the telephone conversation.
Here’s another story from Yen Sheng, a company that owns factories in China and has been shipping Trump handbags since 2015:
Employees in Dongguan told The Post that the company withholds sick pay unless they are hospitalized and avoids paying overtime by outsourcing work to the unregulated one-room factories that dot Dongguan’s back streets. But pressing for change is not an option, they said.
“If you don’t work, other people will,” one woman at the company’s Dongguan subsidiary Yen Hing Leather Works said. “If you protest, the company will ask the police to handle it. The owner is very rich. He can ask the police to come.”
Executives for the Trump brand denied that Yen Hing made its products, while the manager at Dongguan told the Post that the factory used to make Trump products.
As clothing retailers around the world are beginning to focus on labor protections by hiring independent auditors, being more transparent about where their products come from with consumers, and pressuring factory owners to enforce labor protections, the Trump brand has been conspicuously silent on reforms.
According to Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, the company “had not yet matched the policies of other labels because it was newer and smaller … but is now focusing on what more it can do.”
“As a small, young brand, we did not have the chance to influence the debate around social compliance issues,” she said. “But that has obviously changed during this past year.”
Read the rest of the report here.