According to Britain’s The Sun, Beyoncé reportedly contracts with overseas clothing companies that use sweatshop labor to manufacture her sportswear line. The pop star’s Ivy Park label, featured in Topshop stores, is made by Sri Lankan seamstresses paid only $6.17 a day.
A 22-year-old sewing machine operator told the newspaper that she lives in a 100-room boarding house near the factory in the town of Katunayake. The young woman said she can’t survive on her salary of $125.30 a month, which is a little bit over half the Sri Lankan average monthly income of $235.49, according to the newspaper.
“All we do is work, sleep, work, sleep,’’ said the young woman.
The worker, a farmer’s daughter from a remote village 200 miles away, shares a 10-foot by 10-foot room with her 19-year-old sister. Each of them pays rent of $27.08 a month.
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“We don’t have our own kitchen or shower; it’s just a small bedroom,’’ she told the Sun. “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. We don’t have much spare money and what we do have we send back to our family.”
Arcadia Group, the company that owns Topshop, told the Sun it has strict rules for its suppliers.
“When customers buy our goods, they have to be sure [the products] have been made under acceptable conditions. That means without exploiting the people who make them.”
Arcadia added that all suppliers must provide “decent working conditions.”
The Sun acknowledges that the factory is not breaking any laws, and even the poorest of workers make more than the country’s minimum wage. But the newspaper quotes Jakub Sobik, from a group called Anti-Slavery International, saying, “This is a form of sweatshop slavery.’’
The story also quotes multimillionaire Beyonce as saying, “My goal with Ivy Park is to push boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance. True beauty is in the health of our minds, hearts and bodies . . . I am mentally strong and I wanted to create a brand that made other women feel the same way.”