Three China Labor Watch’s investigators released on bail, pending a trial( 取保候审)

June 28, 2017
China Labor Watch
According to information obtained by China Labor Watch (CLW), on June 27, the Jiangxi Ganzhou Police Department notified the families of Su Heng, Li Zhao, and Hua Haifeng that they could come to Ganzhou and pay bail in order to release the three investigators pending trial. Moreover, according to CLW’s most recent information, Su Heng, Li Zhao, and Hua Haifeng have already finished the paperwork for necessary for them to be released on bail pending trial.In the opinion of the three investigators’ attorneys, the investigators’ actions do not constitute crimes. China Labor Watch hopes that the court will provide the investigators with a fair trial.

Su Heng first entered the Jiangxi Huajian factory in March. On April 25th, he entered again. Then, on the evening of May 27, around 10pm, he was taken away from his hotel room by the police.

Li Zhao started working at the Dongguan Huajian Factory on April 13. On the 16th, a factory security guard found him taking pictures and asked him to leave. Mr. Li had planned to leave from Shenzhen to Hong Kong on April 19; however, at Shenzhen Customs, he was detained and told that he was suspected of committing a crime and would not be allowed to pass through customs. At the end of April, he conducted worker interviews outside of the Jiangxi Huajian factory. He was taken away from his hotel room by the police on May 28.

Hua Haifeng began working at the Dongguan Huajian factory on May 12 and resigned on the 16th. Mr. Hua then went in for a job interview at Jiangxi Huajian factory on May 20. However, suspecting that his identity had been discovered by the factory, Hua chose not to enter the factory. He successfully traveled to Hong Kong from Shenzhen on April 20. However, on May 24, the second time he tried to leave for Hong Kong from Shenzhen, he was detained at the Shenzhen Customs.

China Labor Watch’s three investigators conducted investigations at the Dongguan Huajian factory and Jiangxi Huajian factory between March and May 2017. Both factories manufactured shoes for the Ivanka Trump brand. In order to collect relevant evidence, the investigators documented eight hours worth of video footage and pictures. We discovered that the Ganzhou Huajian factory produced for the Ivanka Trump brand in March. The company’s name was also listed on the production schedules for May and June that we obtained.

The evidence gathered revealed that workers were tricked into the factory with inaccurate recruiting advertisements. No payments were made to workers upon resignation; work hours ran 15 hours per day; and workers were given only one or two days off each month. When order volumes were high, workers got off at 1:30am and were required to return to work at 7:10am the following day, working up to 18 hours per day. Workers did not get overtime pay for the forced extra hours of work. Management frequently verbally abused and sometimes physically hit workers.

The factory furthermore implemented various wage deduction policies. For example, fines were applied when workers did not abide by the work hours stipulated by factory. If absent from work for one day, workers could not get their daily wage, and would also need to pay a 120 RMB fine. Workers worked 350 hours a month, but some of them could only earn less than 2400 RMB, because their hourly wage was lower than 1 dollar. In May, we found that the factory employed some vocational middle school students majoring in kindergarten education. According to China’s Regulations On Secondary Technical School Student Workers, factories should not employ student workers whose course of study does not correspond to their job description. Nor should they ask the student workers to work overtime. However, these students put in extra hours just like the others.

Women’s rights were also not protected. Management frequently verbally abused female workers. According to the evidence we gathered, a chart of punishment showed fines on female workers being more than fines on male workers.

Additionally, the factory forged faked pay stubs that showed higher wages than the actual wages paid and asked workers to sign on them. We also found that on April 28th, the factory was faking pay stubs by asking newly-employed workers to sign other workers’ March pay stubs.

We sent two letters to Ms. Ivanka Trump concerning the factory’s rights violations on April 27 and June 6 respectively, in hopes that she would help improve the working conditions of her brand’s supplier factories. It is her responsibility to ensure that assembly line workers producing for her brand are not abused, and to identify and compensate those whose rights are violated while producing for her brand. In the letter we sent on June 6, we also included evidence of factory violations, appealing to Ms. Ivanka Trump to personally help ensure the release of the detained investigators. However, up until now, we have not received any response from either Ms. Ivanka Trump or her company.

The Executive Director of China Labor Watch, Li Qiang, said: “Before, as the president of her brand company, it would be tough if Ms. Ivanka Trump wanted to improve labor conditions in her supply chain on her own. However, now, as the First Daughter of the White House and at the same time, the President’s Special Assistant, with the power and influence at her position, she has the capability to influence factories that were her long-time suppliers, as well as multinational supply chains more generally. However, based on what we have seen so far, she has left us very disappointed. She has set a bad example.”

China Labor Watch has also written letters about the factory’s abusive situation to twenty-some brands sourcing from it, including MARK FISHER,G-III APPAREL GROUP,,Nine West,Guess,Lord & Taylor,Ann Taylor, and Kendall + Kylie. At present, not one has responded. In China Labor Watch’s 17 years of experience, this is rare.

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