“I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.”
I was driving in the car back home when I heard the news. Turkish Zara garment workers sewed riot labels in the Zara items as a matter of protest. ‘Good for you!’ I thought, knowing the life of a Zara garment worker is no easy one. But the news lady told me the garment workers did so because they haven’t been paid in months. Say what now?!
Zara is no sweet store, we know. They have come under fire after using skinny models for a ‘love your curves’ campaign, ripping of other brands or producing anti-Semitic shirts. Besides the all-time no fair, cheaply produced, unsustainable fast fashion of course. Now Istanbul clients found hidden tags in their new purchased items. According to the Associated Press, the labels come from Turkish garment workers who used to work at the Bravo Tekstil Factory, which recently closed. It is said that the manufacturer refused to pay about three months of wages, plus severance allowance.
The tags addresses the buyers almost personally:
“I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.” reads the tag. Pretty heavy I would say, because this sounds ugly much like modern slavery… And that is not only unethical, but also illegal.
Inditex, mother company of Zara, promised to establish a fund for those affected by ‘’the fraudulent disappearance of the Bravo factory’s owner’’, as they say the owner ran with the money Zara already paid for the garments, without paying the workers who made the garments. The fund was to cover unpaid wages, unused vacation, and so on.
Nothing to worry, everyone will be compensated so it seemed. Wasn’t it for the year that already has passed since the factory closed, and the fund that hasn’t been created. So the workers took matters into their own hands.
I think it is pretty cool they did and stood up against the big men. But a message on its own is not enough, so we can, and should help them!
- In addition to the labels, the Bravo workers have launched an online petition which you can find at change.org. This petition demands compensation for the affected workers. “We have all laboured for Zara/Inditex, Next, and Mango for years,” the page reads. “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!”. They are hoping to reach 50,000 signatures and every single one counts.
- Do you want to find such a label in your shirt, with a direct message you just bought a shirt the maker is not paid for? Don’t spend your money on slavery! Every time you spend money, you cast a vote. If you spend your money on these kind of items, made by underpaid or even non-paid labour, you sponsor this kind of economy. Do you really stand behind that? Is that what you want to wear and show others? I don’t. So I don’t buy it. Simple. Rather spend your money on fashion that is produced under healthy, safe and fair working conditions. We love to show you some shoe, outerwear, bag, or lingerie brands that do!
- Spread the story. Why do people still buy fast, cheap fashion, I sometimes wonder? I truly believe it is not on purpose that people support child labour, slavery and pollution. Most of the time they just don’t understand their impact. Education is key. Spread the story, inform people and address their impact personally. Together we can make a change!