P. Diddy to Investigate Sweatshop Rap
"If there is any proof of any wrongdoing, we will terminate our relationship with this factory immediately," Combs said in a press conference. "I will not tolerate any violation of labor laws at any facility where Sean John is manufactured."
The rap mogul, 33, said he was shocked at the allegations, which were first brought to light in Tuesday's New York Times. Combs said a compliance officer had conducted five inspections of the Southeast Textiles factory in Choloma, Honduras (where Sean John clothes are made), in the past year and a subcontractor inspects the facility every two weeks.
But the anti-sweatshop National Labor Committee released a report alleging poor working conditions at Southeast Textiles, says AP. Among the claims in the report: Workers are subjected to daily body searches, contaminated drinking water and 11- to 12-hour daily shifts.
In exchange, the findings claim, the workers are paid 24 cents for each $50 Sean John sweatshirt they sew.
The factory owner, Steve Hawkins, told AP that the leader of a movement to organize his plant, 19-year-old Lydda Eli Gonzalez (who also helped bring the allegations to light in The New York Times story), was a disgruntled worker fired for producing poor quality merchandise and not keeping proper hours, among other infractions.
Hawkins added that when Gonzalez was fired, she received a severance check equivalent to 2-1/2 months salary, and called her charge that conditions at his factory were substandard "completely groundless."
Hawkins said that while the minimum wage in Honduras is 55 cents an hour, his workers make an average of 90 cents per hour.
"I take this issue very seriously. I am determined to get to the bottom of this," Combs said.