Nov. 8, 10:00 a.m.: This post has been updated to include information regarding the statement issued by Inditex, Zara’s parent company
Retail giant Zara has responded to reports that unpaid factory workers have been sewing secret messages in the company’s fast fashion garments. Inditex, Zara’s parent company, issued a statement claiming that the owner of Bravo, the third-party manufacturer that employed the workers, had disappeared without warning, leaving them without pay. Inditex has also committed to setting up what they call a “hardship fund” to cover the factory employees’ losses.
“Inditex has met all of its contractual obligations to Bravo Tekstil and is currently working on a proposal with the local IndustriALL affiliate, Mango and Next to establish a hardship fund for the workers affected by the fraudulent disappearance of the Bravo factory’s owner,” the format statement reads. “This hardship fund would cover unpaid wages, notice indemnity, unused vacation and severance payments of workers that were employed at the time of the sudden shutdown of their factory in July 2016. We are committed to finding a swift solution for all of those impacted.”
Shoppers in Istanbul reported finding mysterious tags in the brand’s clothing, which say, “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.” The tags were made by employees of Bravo, the company that Zara outsources manufacturing to—and which, btw, was shut down overnight.
The workers, who have been going into Turkish Zara stores to place the tags, claim Bravo owes them three months salary plus severance. The messages also encourage shoppers to urge Zara to pay workers fairly.
Zara and its parent company, Inditex, have a history of alleged labour violations, which makes these latest revelations unsurprising—and yet entirely disturbing.. In 2011, the company came under fire when Brazil’s ministry of labour found a São Paolo contractor was manufacturing clothing for Zara using migrant workers in sweatshop conditions. And in 2013, it was accused of using child and slave labour in factories in Argentina and Bolivia.