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article imageZara under investigation for sub-contracting slave-like suppliers

By Christopher Bates     Aug 18, 2011 in Business
Inditex - the parent company of Spanish clothing retailer Zara - is currently being investigated for having suppliers work under slave-like conditions in São Paulo, Brazil.
The allegations were made by Brazil's labour ministry, after their investigators raided two facilities back in July.
Not only did they find 15 undocumented Bolivians working long hours in unhealthy conditions, however, the BBC reported they were being the equivalent of 7-12 US cents per piece.
Although the sweatshops were contracted by Paris-based company AHA, Inditex is being held responsible for keeping AHA in business, as 90% of their work in Brazil was destined for Zara.
Luis Alexandre de Faria, an investigator for the labour ministry in São Paulo, said: “This [supplier] would not exist in the economic world without Zara. The design orders, definition of test pieces and even the choice of materials came directly from the main company [Inditex] in Spain.”
During one of the raids, five children were spotted working up to 16 hours a day. Electrical wires were exposed and there was a serious lack of ventilation. Amazingly, several workers were even living in the factory, having been told they needed permission to leave.
48 violations of labour laws were discovered by Brazilian authorities, who recommended Zara be fined $623,000.
Inditex has denied all knowledge of the conditions, but quickly issued a statement. "The supplier has accepted full responsibility and is paying financial compensation to the workers as required by Brazilian law and the Inditex Code of Conduct."
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