May 31 (UPI) — A labor activist who went undercover to investigate working conditions at a factory in China that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump has been detained by police, his wife said.
Activist Hua Haifeng, 36, was arrested and accused of “illegal surveillance,” his wife, Deng Guilian, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
“It was a huge blow when the police called me,” Deng said after the arrest in Ganzhou, in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province. “He is the sole breadwinner in our family and I have two children aged 7 and 3. I am now feeling helpless and in pain. I don’t know who I can turn to for help.”
She told The New York Times her husband had worked on mainly labor issues for more than a decade.
Hua was detained last week after he attempted to travel to Hong Kong to publicize the findings, Amnesty International said.
Li Qiang, the executive director of New York-based China Labor Watch, said Hua and two others were investigating two factories owned by major footwear producer Huajian Group. One plant is in the city of Dongguan in southern Guangdong province and the other is in Ganzhou.
Li said the two others — Li Zhao and Su Heng — are missing and “feared detained.”
Huajian International is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of women’s shoes. The company manufacturers about 100,000 pairs of Trump-branded shoes a year out of its production of 8 million pairs a year, including Coach and Alain Delon, the company said.
The three activists said they found workers were subject to exceptionally long working hours in their preliminary findings, which had not yet been made public.
In New York Times interviews Sunday and Monday outside the Huajian factory gate in Dongguan, some workers said they work 10 or more hours a day, six days a week.
Spokesman Wei Xuegang said workers had agreed to work extra hours but were paid overtime during a busy time.
The Ivanka Trump company declined to comment on the arrest.
Marc Fisher Footwear, which licenses the brand, was “unaware of the allegations” and said he would look into them immediately, a spokeswomen said.