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Ivanka Trump shoes factory has long hours, low pay and abuse

Ivanka Trump shoes factory has long hours, low pay and abuse
Business
GANZHOU, China -- A worker with blood dripping from his head marked a low point in the tense, grinding life at a southeastern China factory used by Ivanka Trump and other fashion brands. An angry manager had hit him with the sharp end of a high-heeled shoe.

"He was bleeding right from the middle of the head," the current worker said.

"There was a lot of blood. He went to the factory s nurse station, passing by me," said a second man, who said he quit his job at Huajian because of the long hours and low pay.

The three workers are the first people with direct knowledge of conditions at the Ganzhou factory to speak with the media. All three spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution or arrest.

Before taking on an official role as adviser to her father, Ivanka Trump stepped back from day-to-day management of her brand, but she has retained her ownership interest. She has not commented on the detentions or the reports of poor working conditions at one of her brand s suppliers. Her spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.

The group said it also sent Ivanka Trump a video taken inside the factory in May. That video included a clip in which a manager threatened to rough up a worker who had apparently arranged shoes in the wrong order.

"If I see them f---ing messed up again," the manager yells, "I ll beat you right here."

Marc Fisher, which has made shoes for Ivanka Trump and Easy Spirit at the Ganzhou factory, has said it would look into the allegations.

G-III Apparel Group, which produces shoes for Karl Lagerfeld, said it had not received a letter but "fully supports the independent monitoring of global supply chains."

"When workplace safety and fairness issues are brought to our attention, we take them very seriously and work with our partners to resolve them," G-III spokesman Chris Giglio said in an email.

Ann Taylor spokesman Shawn Buchanan also said the company takes the allegations "very seriously" and is "actively conducting an investigation to assess this facility s compliance with our code of conduct and applicable laws and regulations."

The Kendall & Kyle brand said its "footwear manufacturer works with many footwear production factories and all factories are required to operate within strict social compliance regulations."

The current Huajian employee who spoke to the AP said life at the factory has changed since the arrests of the three investigators brought the glare of public attention.

Overtime was radically reduced this month, he said. Shifts used to run from 7:10 a.m. until after 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., and sometimes after midnight, with two daily breaks, he and a former employee both said. But for the last few weeks, workers have been released before 7 p.m.

City government officials turned up recently, he said, and the factory gave everyone an egg to eat in the middle of their afternoon shift.

Those who miss their targets do not collect the full salary, said the current employee.

"It is impossible to meet the target, actually, because it just keeps on going up," the former employee said.

The new abbreviated working hours are a mixed blessing, the current employee said, because they haven t been able to meet production targets.

Huajian, meanwhile, has been moving production to Ethiopia, where workers make around $100 a month, a fraction of what they pay in China, according to Song Yiping, a manager at Huajian s Ethiopian factory, who spoke to the AP in January. He said he s heard President Trump talk about bringing jobs back to America, but he doubts that will happen with shoes. Even Chinese vocational school dropouts don t want to work for Ethiopian wages.

"The American clients push down the price," Song explained. "Consumers want to buy cheaper shoes."

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AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Ganzhou, China, AP writers Anne D Innocenzio and Bernard Condon in New York and Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this report.
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