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13 Mar 2016

Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

North Korea: Rip Curl reportedly produces surf clothing in North Korean factory with exploited workers, company says factory was unauthorized

"Surf clothing label Rip Curl using 'slave labour' to manufacture clothes in North Korea", 21 Feb 2016

...Australian surfwear giant Rip Curl has sold millions of dollars’ worth of clothes made in North Korea, where factory workers endure slave-like conditions…Workers in North Korea are routinely exploited...employees are forced to work long hours with minimal or sometimes no pay. Workers who do not obey orders are imprisoned in work camps.

...Rip Curl['s] chief financial officer Tony Roberts...said the firm "takes its social compliance obligations seriously"..."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..."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 Curl products out of North Korea."

Oxfam Australia's CEO Dr Helen Szoke​ said that the revelations raised serious questions about Rip Curl's standards…It is unclear if, prior to the approach from Fairfax Media, Rip Curl has made any effort to inform customers some of the firm's clothing was made in North Korea and falsely tagged with "made in China" labels…”Rip Curl has no excuse for being unaware of what is happening...”