Topshop and Beyoncé’s Ivy Park sportswear brand came under fire recently after a newspaper report accused them of using "sweatshop 'slaves'".
The report came from the Sun newspaper who accused them of using "sweatshop 'slaves'" at MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka. According to the report many of the factory workers are “poverty-stricken seamstresses” who are too scared to speak out due to the fear of losing their jobs.
However in an emailed statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Topshop (and Arcadia) mogul Philip Green refuted the claims. His email stated that:
"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. We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements"
The monthly salary in Sri Lanka is set to a minimum of $71 (£49) per month and MAS Holdings usually pay their workers £4.30 a day. But as the Sun reports, the wages paid by Topshop are well above the minimum wage compared to other factories in the South Asian continents.
Additionally, according to Business of Fashion, the World Bank reported that working conditions in Sri Lanka’s garment industry is "largely organised" and "generally better" in comparison to the rest of South Asia. Their garment export is estimated at $4.4 billion (just over £3 billion) a year, however it bares pointing out that the minimum wage is estimated at about a fifth of the country’s living wage. Compare that to how much an Ivy Park Hexagon Mesh Parka will cost you, it’s no wonder why this is a cause for concern amongst activists and human rights advocates.
According to lobby group Clean Clothes Campaign, they "fall far below a wage a person could live on”.
MAS Holdings have yet to comment on the accusations.
[Via Business of Fashion]