Zara Workers Hide Tags in Garments Seeking Help
Fashion retailer Zara says it's working on establishing a “hardship fund” to help a group of Turkish workers who were left unpaid when an outsource factory closed down. The workers went into Zara shops in Istanbul, leaving tags inside garments that read: “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.” The workers were employed by the manufacturer Bravo, which the workers say owes them three months of pay as well as severance allowance. Spain-based Inditex, which owns Zara, said it’s working with a trade union and retailers Mango and Next for a fund to help workers affected by “the fraudulent disappearance of the Bravo factory’s owner.”
Total Retail's Take: The plight of overseas factory workers, particularly those in the apparel and footwear industries, has been an ongoing concern for many retail brands. From unsafe working conditions to paltry wages, factory workers have too often been the forgotten in the retail supply chain. In this particular case, Zara gets the negative PR, when it's not entirely at fault. The retailer outsourced the manufacturing work, and is relying on the factory owner to pay its employees a fair wage and provide a safe work environment — which it did not. Where Zara does deserve some of the blame is that the retailer is responsible for the actions of the companies it chooses to outsource work to. Zara is making the decision on who to partner with, and therefore must pay the consequences if that outsourced partner doesn't deliver on its promises. Is that fair? Not necessarily, but it's reality.