Beyonce's Ivy Park apparel has 'rigorous ethical' program, retailer says

Fri May 20, 2016 12:04pm EDT
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By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ivy Park, the sportswear brand that is a joint venture between singer Beyonce and Topshop tycoon Philip Green, has defended itself against a Sun newspaper report that says its supplier in Sri Lanka uses "sweatshop slaves" to produce the clothing.

Workers making some of the clothes at MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka earn just 4.30 pounds ($6.30) a day, the tabloid reported on Sunday. Most of the "poverty-stricken seamstresses" are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs, it said.

"Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. 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," Ivy Park said in a statement emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements," it said.

South Asian garment manufacturers have come under increasing scrutiny since the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, in which more than 1,100 factory workers died.

The wages that the Sun reports are paid to Topshop's Sri Lankan factory workers are well above the minimum wage in South Asia, where minimum salaries in the garment industry range from $68 a month in Bangladesh to $71 in Sri Lanka and $120 in Pakistan, according to the World Bank.

Working conditions in Sri Lanka's garment industry, which is largely organized, are "generally better" than in the rest of South Asia, the World Bank said in a report last month.

Sri Lanka's garment exports, which are worth about $4.4 billion a year, are largely "higher-value, niche products", made by workers who are better educated and more skilled than their peers in the region, the report said.   Continued...

Singer-Songwriter Beyonce Knowles arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz