Rap music mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs said he will investigate allegations of worker mistreatment at a Honduran factory that supplies garments for his Sean John clothing line. His vow came in response to a report released yesterday (Oct. 28) by the anti-sweatshop National Labor Committee alleging poor working conditions at the Southeast Textiles factory in Choloma, Honduras, where Sean John clothes are made.
“If there is any proof of any wrongdoing, we will terminate our relationship with this factory immediately,” Combs said. “I will not tolerate any violation of labor laws at any facility where Sean John is manufactured.”
Combs said he was shocked at the allegations. He said a compliance officer conducted five inspections of the Honduran factory in the past year and a subcontractor inspects the facility every two weeks.
“I take this issue very seriously. I am determined to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
The director of the National Labor Committee, Charles Kernaghan, and 19-year-old Lydda Eli Gonzalez, a former worker at the factory, stood outside the New York site of a Sean John store set to open next spring as Gonzalez described the alleged abuses that took place at the factory.
“We should be paid what we’re owed. We make so little that it’s not enough to have a dignified life,” said Gonzalez, who said she was fired after she tried to organize a union.
Workers are subjected to daily body searches, contaminated drinking water and 11- to 12-hour daily shifts, the report said. In exchange, they are paid 24 cents for each $50 Sean John sweat shirt they sew.
But the factory owner, Steve Hawkins, said in a telephone interview that Gonzalez was a disgruntled worker fired for producing poor quality merchandise, not clocking in when she arrived and repeatedly arriving late.
Hawkins said the charge that conditions at his factory were substandard “is completely groundless.”
When Gonzalez was fired, she received a severance check equivalent to two-and-a-half months salary, Hawkins said. And while the minimum wage in Honduras is 55 cents an hour, he said his workers make an average of 90 cents per hour.
According to the report, about 80 percent of the Southeast Textiles factory production is for the Sean John clothing line. The other 20 percent is for Rocawear, co-founded by rapper and producer Jay-Z and rap music producer Damon Dash. A call to the New York offices of Rocawear was not returned.
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