Beyonce’s clothing line assembled by ‘slave’ workers

 Beyonce’s new sportswear clothing line Ivy Park, the intention of which is supposedly to “empower women through sport,” is coming under fire for allegedly using sweatshop labor, The Sun reports.

“My goal with Ivy Park is to push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance,” Beyonce said during a recent appearance at London’s Topshop, one of Ivy Parks’s global retailers.

For the garment workers, who are mainly young girls and women, Ivy Park is anything but inspiring or empowering. To manufacture the sportswear, the pop star teamed up with Philip Green, whose investment company Arcadia Group owns several fashion retail chains, including Topshop. For Green, it is not the first time he’s come under fire for mistreating workers.

Beyonce’s clothing line accused of using ‘sweatshop slaves’

The British Tabloid The Sun claims that the clothes are being made by young women in horrible sweatshop conditions at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka. They work up to 60 hours a week, and earn just a little over $6 a day, which is barely enough to survive and feed their families.

Furthermore, the paper reports that these seamstresses have to live in slave-like conditions. They are cramped in 100-room boarding houses, and are often not allowed to leave their rooms after the strict 10:30pm curfew.

“We don’t have our own kitchen or shower, it’s just a small bedroom,” one 22-year-old sewing machine operator told the newspaper. “We have to share the shower block with the men so there isn’t much privacy. It is shocking and many of the women are very scared.”

Like thousands of other young girls and women working in garment factories across South-East Asia, she was forced to move from her rural home in the countryside because her parents weren’t able to feed her and there were no jobs available there.

Another garment worker the paper spoke to, a 40-year old who has worked for the company for 11 years, said that there is little opportunity to escape poverty. While most new workers are paid a base salary of 18,500 rupees ($126) a month, her wage has gone up to 21,000 rupees ($143) per month, and she still struggles to survive.

She said: “I have worked here many years and my money is a bit more now. I have to work many hours overtime to pay for everything and there is no money left afterwards.”

Ivy Park sportswear line denies claims

Ivy Park told The Independent that the story published by The Sun was “unfounded.”

“Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading programme,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”

Despite the inhumane working and living conditions, nothing about the situation is illegal. According to MAS Holdings, the Sri Lankan factory which produces Beyonce’s clothes, their workers are all paid more than the minimum wage, which is 13,500 rupees ($92) a month.

However, campaigners told The Sun that workers realistically need to make 43,000 rupees ($288) a month to make a living wage.

Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, said: “This is a form of sweat shop slavery. There are a number of elements here that tick the boxes in terms of slavery, the low pay, restriction of women’s movement at night and locking them in.”

“Companies like Topshop have a duty to find out if these things are happening, and it has long been shown that ethical inspections by these companies are failing. They should be replaced by independent inspections.”