Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Trump's Honduras Horror

Those of you with the slightest interest in American politics may have heard of Donald Trump. The Republican nominee for United States President has split the country down the middle, horrifying as many as he fascinates.
A major theme of his campaign stance is his promise to bring jobs back to America. He wants to restart industry in the moribund Heartland states, the core of his support. But Trump can be as guilty of outsourcing as his opponents. Take, for example, the well-shared photo of his iconic 'Make America Great Again' cap, highlighting its 'Made In China' tag.
It's no surprise that many items that bear the Trump branding are made overseas. But, as a coruscating Buzzfeed article recently made clear, clothes made using Trump's name are cut and sewn in factories with some of the worst worker's rights records out there.
Honduras is not known for a progressive approach to dealing with the people who work in the huge garment factories that crank out clothing for multinational brands. In fact, workers are often abused and silenced if they dare to make a stand.
Protexsa, a company owned by one of Honduras' highest-ranked families, holds a reputation for tough conditions even in an environment that treats workers as second-class citizens. The factory floor often reaches temperatures of 105 degrees. But people on the line limit themselves to small sips of water as they work. Even toilet breaks could cause them to slip behind quota and lose the production bonuses that allow them to live instead of just survive.
Worker Rights Consortium, a labour-rights monitoring organisation based in Washington investigated Protexsa in 2013. That followed concerns about the clothing the factory produced for the City of Los Angeles. WRC's report concluded Protexsa to be in 'serious violation' of fair working conditions. Workers were forced to take mandatory six-day weeks and faced abusive supervisors.
Until 2014, when records become unavailable, thousands of items of Trump-branded clothing came out of Protexsa. The clothes were marketed as luxury items. They were bound for stores like Macy's (who recently stopped stocking the brand following Trump's derogatory statements on Latino workers).  But their manufacture took place in an environment that was anything but.
The Republican nominee's organisation is keeping a tight lid on details about the sources of Trump-branded products. This is unsurprising, as scrutiny of the man and his business practices will only increase as we head towards November. It'll be interesting to see what new insights we glean about the most divisive Presidential candidate in recent US history, based on the way he sources his production.

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