Zara, the Spanish clothing retailer that’s developed a miserable reputation for its bad labor practices and ripping off the work of other designers and artists, has once again made its way into the news. This time, though, the chain’s alleged victims have voiced their complaints through the clothes themselves.
According to the AP, shoppers at Zara in Istanbul have found notes from Turkish factory workers sewn into their garments:
The tag reads “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.” It urges shoppers to back their campaign and pressure Zara into paying them.
The tags noted that the workers were employed by third-party manufacturer Bravo Tekstil, which abruptly shuttered last year and left them owed several months in wages. Bravo also made garments for stores Mango and Next.
Two months ago, Bravo employees launched a Change.org petition demanding compensation after the company’s owner vanished overnight, leaving 155 people unpaid. Of the 155, 140 signed the petition:
“We have all laboured for Zara/Inditex, Next, and Mango for years. We made these brands’ products with our own hands, earning huge profits for them. We demand now that these brands give us the basic respect to compensate us for our labour. We demand no more than our basic rights! We call on the international community to support our struggle, sign and share to support our campaign!”
Much has been written about Zara’s unsavory ethics, from its propensity for ripping off artists to animal cruelty to sweatshop manufacturing. In New York City, retail workers at eight Zara locations voted to unionize last year, though employees at other locations—and of, course, those laboring in its factories—have not been so lucky.
In a statement to Refinery29, Zara’s parent company, Inditex, said that it is working to establish a “hardship fund” for the workers affected by the shutdown:
“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.”