Spanish clothing company Inditex is suspected of using slave workers in a factory in Argentina. Inditex says to be 'surprised' about the allegations and the company denies all ties with the company where the poor working conditions were discovered.
Thirteen hour shifts each day
It was La Alameda, a group concerned with workers’ rights, that unfolded the working circumstances in the factory. They discovered mainly Bolivian workers, including children, working in terrible conditions. They had to work more than thirteen hours a day and were not allowed to leave the workplace without permission. Allegedly the sweatshop made clothing for, amongst others, Zara.
“We found men and children who lived in places where they worked. They were not registered and they were living in terrible conditions. They had no official documents and were held against their will, they were not allowed to leave their workplaces without permission", said Juan Gomez Centurion, head of the Argentinian health and safety watchdog.
Inditex denies any involvement with the factories were the workers were found and claim to be surprised their name even showed up during the investigation. A company spokesperson 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.”
Inditex wants to cooperate on the investigation and says it has performed 300 audits over the past two years at the sixty Argentinian factories that work for the company. Still, the suspicion is not completely out of place: in 2011 fifteen workers were freed from a factory in São Paulo, Brazil, that also made clothing for Zara.
Deal with NBA
There was also some good news for Zara, because the Spanish brand has made a deal with the NBA, the biggest American basketball league. Zara will produce a number of limited edition T-shirts for children aged three to twelve.
It comes as no surprise that the LA Lakers take a prominent position on one of the shirts, being the team of Spanish star player Pau Gasol. The Chicago Bulls also features on one of the shirts, while the third design features the NBA as a whole.