By Wendy Williams
A SPANISH high-street chain has been accused of slave-labour conditions in Brazil.
Zara, founded by Spain’s richest man, billionaire Amancio Ortega, has been exposed in an episode of the investigative TV show A Liga (The League).
Undercover reporters found mainly Bolivian immigrants working for a pittance in slave-like conditions, in more than 30 of the company’s outsourced factories in Sao Paulo.
In one of the workshops, a Bolivian worker explained that a pair of Zara jeans – which in Brazil is sold for approximately R$ 200 (87 euros) – had a manufacturing cost of just R$ 1,80 (80 cents).
And the people – who were forced to work in cramped, unsanitary conditions, for long hours – were paid the equivalent of between five and eight cents a piece.
But in reaction to the claims, the parent company of Zara, Inditex, has issued an immediate statement insisting it had zero tolerance for such infringements.
“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,” the statement said.
The world’s biggest clothes retailer also insisted the workers were employed illegally by a subcontractor and that from now it was strengthening the oversight of their production system.
“The Inditex group, along with Brazil’s Ministry of Work, will strengthen the supervision of the production system of all its suppliers in the country to ensure that such cases do not occur again,” it added.
About 50 per cent of the clothes and accessories sold by Zara are manufactured in Spain, while 26 per cent are produced in the rest of Europe and 24 per cent the rest of the world with around 7000 people employed in Brazil.