Unpaid Workers are ‘Slipping Pleas for Help into Zara Clothes’

Shoppers at Zara, a fashion retailer, have discovered unusual notes in their clothes from workers that are claiming that they have not been paid for making the merchandise.

With £53.4m in yearly sales and over 2,200 stores worldwide, Zara might be recognized as one of the most successful fashion lines in the world, but, once again, the retailer discovers itself entangled in controversy.

The Associated Press reports that according to accounts of customers in Istanbul, pleas for help in the form of handwritten letters from Turkish workers have been discovered in the pockets of in-store garments requesting shoppers to support their campaign for better labour standards and urge Zara into paying them the wages that they say they are owed.

The notes say that the workers in question were employed by Bravo Tekstil, a third-party manufacturer, which reportedly shut down overnight, leaving workers owed numerous months of unpaid wages. Bravo Tekstil also manufacturers garments for Next and Mango.

“I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it,” read the notes reportedly.

However, this is not the first time the fast-fashion retailer has been under fire.

The Spanish chain has earlier been accused of ripping off young designers, overlooking poor factory conditions, and causing environmental damage.

It was even accused of dismal working conditions and accused of both child and slave labour, as well as exploiting refugees from Syria that are as young as 15.

However, despite this, just last month, Inditex, Zara’s parent company, released a statement announcing its dedication to working closely with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to “[enhance] labour conditions at all levels of the garment sector value chain.”

According to the press release, Inditex is collaborating with the ILO on the SCORE project, which is “targeted at improving management systems and working conditions in factories in China and Turkey.”

In reply to the news, a spokesperson from Inditex informed Refinery29 that “Inditex has met all of its contractual obligations to Bravo Textil [sic] 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.”