Arrested at the Trump shoe factory
New York based China Labor Watch's only crime is trying to help China shoe factory workers
As a result of an investigation to uncover excessive labor abuses in a Chinese shoe factory, Hua Haifeng has been arrested and two others have gone missing, presumed to be detained. The three men that were arrested work for China Labor Watch, a New York-based group that investigates worksites for violations of workers’ rights. The factory produces shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand and other western companies like Coach and Nine West.
The group’s director Li Qiang stated that the investigation was an attempt to use Ivanka’s influence to improve conditions on the production lines of multinational corporations. Li plans to report his findings to her company and with her help, they hope to reduce abuses throughout her supply chain.
The men were there for a little over a month and accrued about eight hours of video footage. The police arrested them based on the use of illegal surveillance gear, even though the men only used cell phones to record the injustices they experienced. While undercover, the group discovered that workers were being forced to work over-time without pay and were threatened with dismissal if they refused. The workers would also be fired if they took sick leave and were forced to sign falsified time sheets.
In his 17 years of activism, Li says that this is the first time his group has ever been arrested or suspected of committing a crime. This sudden change is a result of China’s crackdown on advocacy groups. Arrests are becoming more common as more groups begin investigating working conditions.
A spokeswoman from the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied knowing of the situation as did Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump. As expected but not believable by any means, the company claimed that their manufacturers comply with the laws and maintain safe working conditions, but China Labor Watch has evidence saying otherwise.