News & Politics

Ivanka Trump's Garment Workers Can't Afford to Live with Their Children

New report finds rampant labor abuse in first daughter's Indonesian clothing factory.

Ivanka Trump speaks about her father's child-care policy during a campaign rally in Aston, PA.
Photo Credit: (flickr / Michael Vadon)

The thousands of women who work in Ivanka Trump's clothing factory in Subang, Indonesia, would laugh if they read her latest book, "Women Who Work," a treatise on achieving work-life balance.

Many garment workers in Ivanka Trump's Indonesia clothing factory are paid so little that they cannot afford to live with their children or purchase basic necessities without going into debt, according to a new investigation by the Guardian. The workers also face anti-union intimidation and verbal abuse, and are paid a $10.50 bonus if they continue to work throughout their menstrual cycle. 

Many of the 2,759 factory workers—three-quarters of whom are women—make the region's minimum wage, about 2.3 million rupiah, or $173 per month, which is in the running for the lowest in Asia.

For one minimum wage-earning factory worker who goes by Ali, this wage means that she must live in a boarding house, while her children stay with their grandparents hours away. She says she and the kids' father can only see them once a month when they can afford the cost of gasoline. 

Several workers at the factory owned and operated by the Korean supplier company PT Burma mentioned being called "morons," "monkeys" and "animals" by their superiors, and cited a pattern of firings before Ramadan to circumvent the "religious holiday bonus." Others complained of sporadic compensation for their frequent overtime work.  

This news follows the disappearance of several labor activists in China last week who were investigating abuses, including salaries lower than China's legal minimum wage and violations of women's rights, at a plant where Ivanka Trump shoes are produced. 

"Ivanka Trump claims to be the ultimate destination for Women Who Work," Carry Sommers, founder of the non-profit Fashion Revolution, told the Guardian. "But this clearly doesn't extend to the women who work for her in factories around the world."

The White House and Ivanka Trump's brand declined the Guardian's requests for comment. 

Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master's candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her @laurenkgurley.

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