London - Beyonce’s sportswear line Ivy Park, which is sold by Topshop, has been accused of using “sweat shop labourers” who earn as little as 4.30 pounds a day.
The Sun on Sunday reported that the clothing range, which Beyoncé launched to help “support and inspire women,” is being made by seamstresses in Sri Lanka who are earning just 44 pence an hour making the sportswear in the MAS Holdings factory in the country.
According to the tabloid, a 22-year-old seamstress stated that she earned 18,500 rupees (87.26 pounds) a month, just over half the Sri Lankan average wage, for a nine and three-quarter hour shift, five days a week, plus overtime. Meaning it would cost the workers more than a month’s wages to buy a pair of Beyonce’s 100-pound leggings.
“When they talk about women and empowerment this is just for the foreigners,” one machinist told The Sun on Sunday. “They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.”
Even though the workers are being paid more than the legal minimum, which is 13,500 rupees a month, many campaigners described the labour as a “form of sweat shop slavery” and that a living wage is closer to 43,000 rupees.
Beyonce's Ivy Park collection reportedly made by “sweat shop labourers” who earn 4.30 pounds a day
Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, told the tabloid: “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.”
In response to the claims, a Topshop spokeswoman 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.”
Beyonce’s Ivy Park sportswear collection in collaboration with Topshop launched with more than 200 items in April. Inspired by sportswear favoured by the artist, the collection includes clothing, footwear, and accessories, for a wide range of fitness activities, such as dance, running, and yoga.
Images: Ivy ParkIvy Website