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Fashion retailer Zara is dealing with reports that garment workers have stitched messages into their clothing, hoping it will reveal their plight. Shoppers in Istanbul who have allegedly seen the tags, claim the Turkish workers aren't being paid for their time.
According to Associated Press, one of the tags says: "I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn't get paid for it."
The tags claim the workers are employed by third-party manufacturer Bravo, which has since closed down and left staff without three months of pay or severance allowance. Bravo factories also produce clothing for Next and Mango.
A spokesperson for Inditex, the company that owns Zara, told Refinery29: ""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."
The reports come just a few weeks after Inditex, the company that owns Zara, issued a media release explaining how it was doing its best to 'spread best labour practices in the garment industry'.
It reads: "The Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, today met with the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, with the goal of reinforcing the projects on which the two entities are collaborating with the aim of enhancing labour conditions at all levels of the garment sector value chain.
Reports of the tags being sewn into the clothes is just another controversy involving the retailer since it was founded in Spain in 1974.
In 2011, a Brazilian investigation accused the company of using suppliers who were running sweatshops for their production. Authorities in São Paulo eventually closed that factory after dozens of workers were found to be operating in 'unsanitary conditions'.
It was also revealed that the factory was employing people as young as 14 and staff were made to work for 16 hours each day. It was also alleged that they were being paid well below the country's minimum wage.
Seamstress Maria Susicleia told Veja: "It was a stuffy place, dimly lit, unventilated, smelly; the windows were kept closed so no one knew there was a sewing workshop there."
The company responded, saying it was 'serious breach in accordance with the Code of Conduct for External Manufacturers and Workshops of Inditex,' and ordered all the factories taking part in the unauthorised outsourcing to rectify the issue.
The company also faced accusations last year that it had stolen designs from different independent designers. Zara claimed the similarities between their products and other designer's looks weren't distinctive enough, however, once the claims were covered by news organisations, Inditex said the items had been taken down.
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