Workers At Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Factory Claim Extremely Low Wages, Abuse

Workers at PT Buma, the Korean-owned garment factory in Subang, Indonesia, responsible for creating the pieces that make up Ivanka Trump’s fashion label, told in personal interviews with The Guardian of the horrendous conditions they are forced to endure working for Donald Trump’s daughter.

PT Buma started in Indonesia in 1999 and is one of the suppliers to G-III Apparel Group, the wholesale manufacturer for Ivanka Trump’s brand, among others. Earning 2.3 million rupiahs, the equivalent of around $173 a month, employees bring home one of the lowest minimum wages in Asia and workers reported regularly working unpaid overtime while trying to meet impossibly high production targets.

“The management is getting smarter: they tap out our ID cards at 4 p.m. so you can’t prove anything,” said Wilden, a 25-year-old male employee.

Another clever tactic used is avoiding paying bonuses for religious holidays by simply firing the employees just before them. Indonesia is a Muslim country and the factory’s management has been accused of firing employees before the holy month of Ramadan, only to rehire them again at the month’s end. When employees are working, however, they are often referred to by derogatory names such as “animals,” “moron” and “monkey” by factory management and suffer through what has been described as “violations of women’s rights”.

When Alia, one of the 2,759 workers at PT Buma, was explained the general idea of Ivanka Trump’s new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month.

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To make matters worse, of those 2,759 workers, only around 200 are unionized, split between two different unions. Of the non-union workers, around three-quarters are women who, like Alia, spend almost all of their income on their children, children they can’t even afford to see, let alone even live with.

Another such worker is Sita, 23, who will soon be terminated after seven months work and will receive no severance.

“That’s one of the company’s ways to cope with extra expenses,” Sita said. “I can’t stand it anymore. I work unpaid overtime every day and still earn just 2.3 million [rupiah] a month. I’m planning to move from Subang, where the minimum wage is too low. But I don’t know where to go yet. I haven’t got any connections.”

Don’t be fooled, though, PT Buma factory workers know exactly who they are working for and they don’t like it. Ahmad, an observant Muslim who works at the factory with his wife, as well as many of his other family members, said “We don’t like Donald Trump’s policies,” in reference to the president’s Muslim travel ban, which he had been following on TV.

“But we’re not in a position to make employment decisions based on our principles,” Ahmad said.

These latest complaints come just weeks after one activist was arrested and several others went missing in May while attempting to investigate a separate factory that makes Ivanka Trump-branded shoes in China.


Featured image via Clemens Bilan – Pool /Getty Images