How can I know if my clothes are made with slave labor

A student of Advertising, Ignasi Eiriz, has launched a ‘crowdfunding’ to develop the first sustainable fashion App

The collapse of the Rana Plana textile building in Bangladesh made us look at the label of our clothes and question the real meaning of terms like low cost or made in . The collapse in 2013 of this block of eight floors in which many of the garments that we have in the closet were made caused the death of 1134 people, about 2,500 wounded and shaken the pillars of the fashion industry. Almost five years later, initiatives to open our eyes continue to emerge. Continue reading “How can I know if my clothes are made with slave labor”

The hidden side of a job at Inditex

The workers of the company of Amancio Ortega denounce the inequality of their working conditions, the low salaries and the precariousness that many employees suffer.

The Inditex group agreed last week to extend to the staff of its stores in the provinces of Lugo and Ourense the salary improvements that the workers of the Bershka stores in Pontevedra had obtained after nine days of strike .

In large part thanks to them, their colleagues from that brand in those provinces and also from Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius and Lefties, the rest of the textile firms of the group owned by Amancio Ortega, headed by Pablo Isla, will benefit from a linear rise of 80 euros per month and another of 40 proportional to the hours they work .“If we took pictures of the stores of some shops, they would not offer a very different image to that of a clandestine workshop in Bangladesh”

The workers of Inditex consider the agreement “a conquest”, because it is not usual for Inditex to give salary increases like that. In fact, their labor policy is largely based on maintaining completely different wage and labor conditions. Although the workers do the same work in stores of different brands but the same city. Or in shops of the same brand, but located in different provinces of the same country.

Not having an agreement that requires homogeneous conditions ends up resulting in a very high inequality within the group , and also leads to many employees, and especially employees, end up working in precarious.

“The working conditions of some workers are unfortunate. We have people working 8, 12, 14 hours a week, with salaries that do not allow us to make ends meet . And that in the company of one of the richest men in the world, “says Carmiña Naveiro. It has been used for years in a store in Zara in A Coruña, where Amancio Ortega founded his multinational, is a member of the Company Committee of that brand and secretary of Trade Union Action of the Federation of Services of the Inter-Union Confederation Galega (CIG).

Naveiro explains that the salary differences do not have much justification. A base saleswoman at a Zara store in A Coruña can earn around 940 euros gross per month, when in Madrid “they do not exceed eight hundred and a half”. “In Galicia there are improvements, but there is more union struggle here ,” he stresses.

Público has tried without success to contact Inditex to obtain the version of the company, which nevertheless presumes good working conditions . “We are very committed to the quality of employment,” he highlights on his website, where he also states: “We care about the conditions and development opportunities of all our people. As a sign of stability in this area, 80% of our professionals have an indefinite contract “.

“Some employees have come to ask them if they can not take care of the children”

According to the workers, on the other hand, having an indefinite contract is not a guarantee of safeguard against precariousness , especially in the case of store clerks, who mostly have part-time working hours with salaries proportional to the hours they work.

Inditex also ensures that it assumes “occupational safety and health as an essential part” of its management model. But the unions disagree. According to the representative of the CIG, the company violates the Occupational Risk Prevention Law in many stores. “If we took pictures of the stores of some shops, they would not offer a very different image to that of a clandestine workshop in Bangladesh,” he says.

And he adds that the complaints to the labor inspection for these breaches are a constant “week after week” in the boutiques of some brands.

Regarding gender inequality, Naveiro also states that, although women are a large majority in Ortega’s society-76% according to the company itself-they suffer from severe discrimination , especially when they are mothers and have to combine their I work with the care of your children. Because the schedules “are infernal”, they are made almost from day to day and without a minimum regularity that guarantees knowing that you work in the morning, afternoon or split day.

“Some employees have come to ask if they have no one to take care of the children, ” says the trade unionist, who recalls that the IGC has denounced Zara for not specifying the schedule of a working mother who asked for the reduction of working hours to attend to his two daughters, in a case still pending judicial resolution. The company accepted the reduction, as is its legal obligation, but refused to tell him what his specific work schedule was .

Inditex, which has more than 7,000 stores spread across the world and more than 162,000 employees of a hundred different nationalities, and who obtained 3,157 million euros in profits last year, nevertheless affirms its commitment “to the promotion of gender equality”. “In addition, we work towards policies that favor motherhood and breastfeeding,” adds the company’s decalogue.

Uzbekistan, institutionalized exploitation

The chain of exploitation in the textile industry often begins in the collection of cotton. This is the case in Uzbekistan, one of the largest producers in the world, with the peculiarity that, in the former Soviet republic, forced labor is organized by the government itself. One million people are forcibly mobilized each year to work in the cotton fields in exchange for ridiculous salaries. Due to international pressure, children brought from schools have been released from this task, as confirmed by the International Labor Organization on 30 November in a report sent to the World Bank. “The problem is that this has generated a lack of labor in cotton, and the government now recruits employees of public institutions, including doctors, nurses and teachers, harming these public services because of a shortage of personnel,” says Alfa and Omega. Umida Niyazova, director of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, member organization of the Dignitex network.

Continue reading “Uzbekistan, institutionalized exploitation”