When mega-star Beyoncé debuted her line of athleisurewear Ivy Park, it came with a lofty manifesto that included “Promote women in every sense academically, emotionally and physically.” Apparently for the workers who make the clothes, that means toiling 60 hours a week in sweatshop-like conditions.
According to a report by The Sun, Ivy Park is manufactured in a Sri Lankan factory owned by MAS Holdings where workers — most of them women — work 60-hour weeks and make just $6.20 a day, much of which goes to paying their rent in crowded boarding houses where they live several to a room and have to share the shower block with men. (And which is just 31% of what campaigners consider a “living wage” in Sri Lanka.) Most travel from far away to work there, and they are not allowed to take time off to visit their families. As The Sun points out, one of those women would need to work for over a month to be able to afford a single pair of leggings from the line, which retails for anywhere from $24 to $235. Divas getting money!
“When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners,” one machinist told the tabloid. “They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.” “All we do is work, sleep, work, sleep,” said another. “We had to come and work here because our father could not afford to feed us and there are no jobs there,” said yet another. “We have no choice. I have worked here for three years now, and it was very difficult at the beginning but I am used to it now.” But how do they feel about oppressive standards of beauty? Do they minimize their “professional accomplishments” so that men who make $5/day will like them?
Human rights advocates the paper spoke to agree the conditions are no bueno. Via The Sun:
Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, said: “This is a form of sweat shop slavery.“There are a number of elements here that tick the boxes in terms of slavery, the low pay, restriction of women’s movement at night and locking them in.”
Companies like Topshop have a duty to find out if these things are happening, and it has long been shown that ethical inspections by these companies are failing. They should be replaced by independent inspections.”
In response, the brand released a statement emphasizing things like “ethics”:
“Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”
Via Death and Taxes