Zara is one of the world's most successful clothing retailers, with over 2,200 stores and a net worth of around £8.6 billion. But that success has not come without a fair share of controversy. The store has been repeatedly accused of environmental damage, and of stealing designs from artists around the world (many of which have been compiled at the website Shop Art Theft).
According to customers in Istanbul, clothing workers, reportedly from Turkey, are slipping notes into Zara garments asking for help and claiming they have not been paid for their labor.
I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.
The fashion giant has been sued in the past for horrendous working conditions, child labor, and even slave labor. In this case, the workers who slipped the notes into each garment were reportedly employed by third-party manufacturer Bravo Tekstil.
Zara's parent company, Inditex, has been making an effort to appear cooperative with the International Labour Organization (ILO), even collaborating with them on a project “targeted at improving management systems and working conditions in factories in China and Turkey,” called SCORE.
Inditex has met all of its contractual obligations to Bravo Textil 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. 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.
The Turkish workers are hoping Zara shoppers will help pressure the sales giant into resolving the issue, but there is also a risk to their ploy: the possibility that Inditex may shut down their factory to avoid the conflict altogether. Ideally, these people will keep their jobs and — this is key — get paid for their work.