Chinese maker of Ivanka Trump shoes denies labor violations

For 17 years, China Labor Watch has investigated working conditions at suppliers to some of the world's best-known companies, but Li said his work has never before attracted this level of scrutiny from China's state security apparatus. By Tuesday, after dozens of unanswered calls, he had concluded: "They must be held either by the factory or the police to be unreachable".

A Chinese labor activist has been arrested and charged with illegal surveillance, and two other men have disappeared, after they were investigating conditions at a factory that makes shoes for the Ivanka Trump brand, among other major brands.

According to the Associated Press, one labour activist was detained by Chinese authorities while two others are missing (but are presumed to have been arrested as well).

New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW), which has been conducting the investigations for the past few months, says its activists discovered evidence that several Huajian Group factories violated workers' rights through forced overtime, wages below China's legal minimum wage, verbal abuse from managers, and violations of women's rights.

The Huajian Group produces footwear sold by Ivanka Trump's brand, as well as Coach, Karl Lagerfeld, and Kendall + Kylie.

China Labor Watch has been exposing poor working conditions at suppliers to some of the world's best-known companies for almost two decades, but Li said his work has never before attracted this level of scrutiny from China's state security apparatus. Huajian was contacted before AP's initial reports were published but issued no statement until Thursday. Su Heng had been working undercover at the Ganzhou factory since April, Li said. Deng said the caller told her she didn't need to know the details, only that she would not be able to see, speak with or receive money from her husband, the family's breadwinner.

The Huajian International shoe factory in Jiangxi province in southeast China, was the subject of research by China Labor Watch, a nonprofit based in NY, which was allegedly planning to release a report detailing the factory workers' low pay and excessive overtime. "Huajian staff must comply with China's laws and regulations and Huajian's rules", she told the AP.

No doubt Trump, who has turned over management over her clothing line to others, had nothing to do with this crackdown.

She said Huajian was looking into allegations of improper use of student interns.

Since her father assumed the role as president, Ivanka Trump has said that she is distancing herself from the brand that bears her name.

Ivanka Trump has been questioned before about the very bad conditions in factories producing her brands, but she has chosen to ignore the questions.

  • Jack Mann