HONG KONG — Workers at a Chinese factory that supplies to designer brands including Michael Kors, Coach and Marc Jacobs, among others, have gone on strike to protest alleged sub-standard and illegal working conditions, according to NGO China Labor Watch.
Guangzhou Panyu Shimen Handbag Ltd. Co, a South Korean-owned factory, has been accused of failing to pay its workers a salary in line with local laws – its workers have gone on strike over back pay owed and are campaigning to receive a monthly base salary of 3,500 renminbi ($553 at current exchange) during production-low seasons.
Among the reported violations: not providing pensions, housing funds, hazard pay for workers in high-temperature environments, sick pay, or compensated paternity leave. The workers also claim that the company has not abided by state-mandated occupational health exams.
“We have not even received the benefits that are stipulated in Chinese law,” an open letter to the factory management said, noting that some of its labor force had been at the factory for 10 or even 20 years. “We are now requesting for the company to change their previous illegal activities and compensate us for our past owed benefits.”
In addition to being a large supplier for Michael Kors, the accessories-focused factory supplies products to Coach, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs and DKNY, China Labor Watch said. A spokesman for DKNY said that the brand has no production in that factory and has not for at least five years, and a Tapestry spokeswoman said Coach doesn’t use that facility. A Kors spokesman had no comment, while Marc Jacobs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the NGO, which has previously conducted investigations into Ivanka Trump brand suppliers, it is not the first time the factory, which was set up in 1992, has seen a strike. In 2012, a protest organized by its workers resulted in Burberry withdrawing its contract from the company, China Labor Watch said. There were originally five Shimen factories in Guangzhou but that number dropped to one as the company relocated production to lower cost Southeast Asian countries.