Spanish retailer giant Zara has been accused of employing immigrant workers, including children, to produce clothes in “degrading” sweatshop conditions in Argentina. The Bolivian workers claimed that they were made to work for more than 13 hours a day and were not allowed leave the factory without permission.
It’s not the first time Zara have been caught using slave labour; in 2011 a group of workers were rescued from an unlicensed factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where clothes for Zara’s chain of stores were being produced. The illegal workers were living in dangerous and unhygienic conditions and were forced to work to work 12-hour shifts for as little as £95 a month.
A Zara spokesman said: “We are surprised by the allegations. Based on the limited information we have received so far, the workshops in question do not appear to have any relationship with our approved suppliers in Argentina.”
Zara is just the latest fast fashion retailer to be accused of unfair labour practices. In November 2012 H&M were accused of paying garment workers in Cambodia less than 25% of a living wage. They factories were reportedly overcrowded and had poor working conditions. Also in 2012 US based retailer Forever 21 was investigated by the US Department of Labor for violation of labour laws. Investigators report that several manufacturers produce goods for Forever 21 under ‘sweatshoplike’ conditions.
Remember before you shop from fast fashon retailers – there is a reason the clothes are cheap – someone else is paying the price.