While the World, from the Beyhive to beyond, were super excited for Beyonce’s Ivy Park collection with Topshop to launch back in April, recent news asserts the star’s garments are being produced in sweat-shop style conditions that underpay labourers.
Said to earn as little as £4.30 a day, British newspaper The Sun exposed worker’s wages by speaking to a 22-year-old seamstress from Sri Lanka, where the brand produces its range. The employee and her colleagues are said to earn just 44p an hour during shifts that last up to over 9 hours long, working 5 days a week at the MAS Holdings factory.
The news comes as a shock since Bey’s brand claimed it intended to “support and inspire women” – a contrast against the seamstress’ claims that she earns 18,500 rupees (£87.26) a month, which is just over half the average wage for Sri Lankans. And, though the wage offered is more than the legal minimum of 13,500 rupees a month, the living wage is reported to be closer to 43,000 rupees per month.
Charity Anti-Slavery International representative, Jakub Sobik told The Sun;
“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.”
Releasing an official response to the story, Ivy Park said;
“Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading programme. 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.”
Meanwhile, another worker at the factory, where Beyonce’s £160 bodysuits are made, explained;
“When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners. They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.”
So far there’s been no word direct from Beyonce, though it wouldn’t be unexpected to see her release an official response or announcing her personal involvement in improving the conditions placed upon her brand’s labourers.
We at SPICE will look out for further news on the story, but meanwhile do let us know your thoughts on the sweat shop-style conditions of the Ivy Park factory, and whether it would stop you from buying a piece from the collection.
Image source: Ivypark.com, Topshop.com