Surf company Rip Curl slammed for making clothes in North Korea

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Surf company Rip Curl slammed for making clothes in North Korea

(Picture: Rip Curl)

Australian surf clothing company Rip Curl has been slammed after admitting that they produced garments in North Korea – but labelled the products as if they had been made in China.

A report by Australia’s Fairfax Media claims that the company produced goods in the shady dictatorship, with factory workers often exposed to slave-like conditions.

But while the company has since admitted producing goods in North Korea, they claim that a supplier shifted manufacturing of goods to the country without gaining their prior consent.

In a statement, Rip Curl’s Chief Financial Officer Tony Roberts said that the firm did not authorise production in North Korea.

He said: ‘We were aware of this issue, which related to our Winter 2015 Mountain-wear range, but only became aware of it after the production was complete and had been shipped to our retail customers.

epa05147260 (FILE) An undated file picture released by the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of North Korea

Rip Curl reportedly created goods in North Korea (Picture: EPA)

‘This was a case of a supplier diverting part of their production order to an unauthorised subcontractor, with the production done from an unauthorised factory, in an unauthorised country, without our knowledge or consent, in clear breach of our supplier terms and policies.

‘We do not approve or authorise any production of Rip Curls products out of North Korea.’

Travel writer Anjaly Thomas even claims to have visited the factory – and spoke of the squalid conditions that workers are often subjected to.

She wrote: ‘The three floors of a large factory building was working full swing, with women in uniforms, bent over the machines under slow rotating fans, reducing yards of material into jackets and pants, expertly sowing, stitching together what would later sell for quite a sum in the western market.

A woman works on Rip Curl clothing at Pyongsong Taedonggang Factory near Pyongyang, North Korea (Picture: Anjaly Thomas)

A woman works on Rip Curl clothing at Pyongsong Taedonggang Factory near Pyongyang, North Korea (Picture: Anjaly Thomas)

Workers produce Rip Curl clothing at Pyongsong Taedonggang Factory  (Picture: Anjaly Thomas)

Workers produce Rip Curl clothing at Pyongsong Taedonggang Factory (Picture: Anjaly Thomas)

‘The workers are paid very little and often as food coupons to be en-cashed at [government] run stores for rice and corn and very little cash comes to them.’

Dr Helen.Szoke, Oxfam Australia’s chief executive, was among those who criticised Rip Curl.

She said: ‘Rip Curl has no excuse for not tracking clothing produced within its own supplier factories.

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‘Companies are responsible for human rights abuses within their businesses – not only morally but also within United Nations guidelines on the responsibilities of businesses when it comes to human rights.’