Zara employees fight back

People exit and walk past a fashion retailer Zara branch in an Istanbul upscale neighbourhood, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Shoppers at Zara in Istanbul have found unusual tags on their garments: put there by Turkish workers complaining they have not been paid for the manufacturing the merchandise in the store. Workers of an outsource manufacturer have been leaving tags inside clothes saying: "I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn't get paid for it." (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Ever had the temptation to buy a pair of shoes, or a stylish dress from Zara, a popular Spanish clothing retailer? Well, think again before you swipe your credit card. Turkish workers employed at an outsourced manufacturer for Zara, Bravo, have not been paid for three months and also have not received their severance checks after the company was shut down overnight. There have been several attempts by the media reaching out to Zara to get these workers the money they have earned, but Zara has not responded. The most recent attempt was made by the workers themselves. Shoppers in Istanbul found, “unexpected tags inside Zara merchandise proclaiming, “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it,”. The workers are angry and are starting to strike back, and they have every reason to.

The tags are being manually attached to items of clothing in stores by the Turkish employees. They are hoping that by attaching the tags they will reach the customers and, by extension, the employees at Zara to get the pay they deserve. Just imagine not being payed for a whole week of work. Most people would be infuriated by this and would probably have a few choice words with their employer. Now imagine that it has been three months that you haven’t been paid for, and to top it off you are now without a job and haven’t been paid severance for losing said job. Still want to buy that outfit?

Amancio Ortega, worth 74.5 billion dollars making him the fourth richest man in the world, is the owner of Zara parent company, Inditex. Ironic that one of the world’s richest men can’t even be bothered to pay his employees severance when his company is shut down, isn’t it? The company also pulls in about 70 million dollars in annual sales so the fact that they are neglecting to pay their employees is ridiculous. In addition, this is not the first time Zara has been called out for undesirable working conditions. The retailer is consistently criticized for, “causing colossal environmental damage, ripping off various fashion designers, and turning a blind eye to dismal factory conditions,”.

The company has been sued on multiple occasions for reasons such as poor working conditions, slave and child labor, as well as exploiting Syrian refugees as young as the age of fifteen. If none of this has convinced you to cease shopping here, there was also that time a woman found a dead rat sewn into her dress from a Connecticut branch of the store.  It is not clear as to how this came to happen, but whether it was by the hand of an enraged employee or the sanitary conditions were just that horrible, that is not something that I would want to find in my dress. Equal Times, a labor and human rights site, writes that, “Zara is a company that would rather pay fines than rectify its bad labor practices,” 

In addition to installing these tags in the clothing, about 80 percent of the 600 workers, “have decided to form a single union and are fighting for decent work,”. The employees are doing all that they can to achieve the equality they deserve in the workplace. So, before you make your Black Friday shopping plans to go to Zara, put yourselves in the shoes of those employees who haven’t been paid. Would you still shop there? I certainly wouldn’t.


Kaitlyn Pierce is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kaitlyn.pierce@uconn.edu.