Indonesian workers who make Ivanka Trump’s fashion line are too poor to live with their own children
Workers who make Ivanka Trump’s clothing line at a factory in Indonesia endure degrading conditions for “poverty wages” — or, in other words, typical circumstances in their part of the world.
More than a dozen workers at the fashion label’s factory in Subang complained about one of the lowest minimum wages in Asia, along with impossible production targets, intimidation and verbal abuse, reported The Guardian.
The workers are actually paid less there than at a factory in China where labor activists were arrested last week while investigating possible abuses.
PT Buma Apparel Industry, a Korean-owned company, operates the factory in Subang, West Java, that supplies G-III Apparel Group, the wholesale manufacturer for Trump’s clothing and other fashion brands.
“Sure I’m proud to make clothes for a well-known brand,” said one worker, identified as Fadli. “But because I see the price tags, I have to wonder, can’t they pay us a bit more?”
The mostly Muslim workers there are aware of who Trump is, and they aren’t fans of her father’s presidency.
“We don’t like Donald Trump’s policies,” said one worker, identified as Ahmad. “But we’re not in a position to make employment decisions based on our principles.”
Ahmad and his wife, Alia, live in two rooms at a boarding house they rent for $30 a month, hours away from their children, who live with their grandmother and visit their parents about one weekend a month.
Alia makes about $173 a month, the legal minimum wage in her province — which is the lowest rate in all of Indonesia and about 40 percent less than her Chinese counterparts.
Workers are expected to make between 58 and 92 garments every half hour, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. — although the company frequently underreports actual production by nearly half — and managers verbally abuse them as “animals, moron and monkey.”
About 200 of the more than 2,700 workers at the Buma factory are unionized, and non-union workers are often forced to work overtime to make up production shortfalls their managers say they missed during regular hours.
The company also has a pattern of firing employees ahead of Ramadan and rehiring them later to avoid paying a religious holiday bonus under Indonesian law, the newspaper reported.
Women who are permanent employees get three months of paid maternity leave, as well as mandatory federal health insurance and a $10.50 monthly bonus if they don’t take a day off for menstruation.
About three-quarters of Buma’s workers are women, and they devote almost all their income to children they can’t afford to live with.
Those conditions are fairly typical for Indonesia and Malaysia, according to labor experts.
Alia, who hopes to one day get out from under crushing debt and rejoin her children, burst out laughing when a reporter explained the basic premise of Ivanka Trump’s new book on working women.
Her idea of work-life balance, according to The Guardian, would be seeing her children more than once a month, assuming they can afford gasoline.