US$158 dresses. US$79 blouses. US$95 earrings.
These are the prices of the pieces in Ivanka Trump’s clothing line that rake in hefty profit margins while the makers behind the products endure a laundry list of sweatshop work conditions, including earning only US$62 a week, a factory audit released Monday revealed.
The contractor, G-III Apparel Group, employs 80 workers in a factory in China that knit clothes for the U.S. president’s daughter’s company, and also makes clothes for Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and other brands.
During a four-day tour of the factory back in October, inspectors with the Fair Labor Association found two dozen violations of international labor standards, which included daunting work hours, safety hazards and pay near or below China’s minimum wage.
The inspectors found that workers were required to work 57 hours a week “on a regular basis” to hit production targets, and while Chinese law sets the limit for overtime at 36 hours per month, workers had worked up to 82 hours of overtime a month between September 2015 and August 2016.
In addition, they made only between 1,879 and 2,088 yuan a month, or around US$255 to US$283 — well below minimum wage in many parts of China.
And while it is legally required for employers to offer coverage under China’s social insurance benefits, including a pension and medical, maternity, unemployment and work-related injury insurance, only a third of workers were provided with such benefits. The factory also did not contribute to the legally required fund that is designed to help workers afford housing.
Workers also had no unions and the only representative was a factory appointee.
A number of workplace safety concerns were also found. Inspectors noted that employees were not trained on safety techniques, provided equipment that could reduce injury or protected against harsh chemicals.
The release of the report comes as Trump reiterated her father’s “buy American, hire American” agenda at a public discussion in Germany Tuesday about "global entrepreneurship and empowerment" that saw the crowd swiftly deliver a torrent of boos as she talked about President Trump. She also cast herself as a “champion" of workplace issues at the event, which was held one week before the debut of her book, “Women Who Work.”
And in another display of her vapid support for feminism and labor rights, Trump wrote in a Financial Times essay Monday, “We can add billions to the global economy by creating an enabling environment, increasing women’s labor force participation and business ownership, and improving the productivity of their work.”
The revealing report also comes just a week after President Trump signed an executive order that he said would push the government to “aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job.”