A Chinese factory where Ivanka Trump’s shoes are made has been under scrutiny in recent weeks after three activists preparing a report on labor practices there were arrested and detained by Chinese authorities. But on Tuesday, a Guardian report focused on a different factory where the First Daughter’s brand is produced: an Indonesian factory called PT Buma, where workers — the majority of whom are women — don’t earn enough money to live with their children.
One woman interviewed by the paper, Alia, has worked in factories on and off since high school and earns the legal minimum wage — 2.3 million rupiah, which is about $173 a month — at PT Buma. It’s worth noting that the Indonesian minimum wage is as much as 40 percent lower than in Chinese factories; Jim Keady, an American labor-rights activist who’s worked in Indonesia, called it a “poverty wage.” As a result, Alia and her husband rent two rooms in a boarding house for $30 a month, but their children live hours away with their grandmother. The couple sees their kids about one weekend a month, which is a far cry from the First Daughter’s image of a working mom:
When Alia was told the gist of Ivanka Trump’s new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month.
Other PT Buma employees face similar situations. According to The Guardian, “There are currently 2,759 workers at Buma, according to the regional manpower office … About three-quarters of them are women, many are mothers and several, like Alia, devote almost all their income to children with whom they can’t afford to live.”
Women who are employed full-time at the factory do get some benefits, such as three months’ paid maternity leave (which is more than Ivanka originally gave her employees); mandatory federal health insurance; and a $10.50 bonus if they work while on their periods.
Ivanka technically stepped down from her fashion brand in January, but she still receives payouts from the line, which was folded into a trust worth $50 million. Her name still appears on the labels of the dresses manufactured by Alia and hundreds of other women. Alia and her husband, Ahmad, both of whom are practicing Muslims, know who Ivanka’s dad is. “We don’t like Donald Trump’s policies,” Ahmad said. “But we’re not in a position to make employment decisions based on our principles.”