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Zara Is Accused Of Child Labor! What Would Kate Middleton Say?

Fri, August 19, 2011 1:10pm EDT by Katrina Mitzeliotis Add first Comment

One of the Duchess’ favorite brands has found itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons! A new report claims they’re responsible for unfair labor practices — and they’ve hired a girl as young as 14-years-old!

According to a new investigative report out of Brazil, Zara’s Brazilian suppliers and factories are being accused of subjecting workers to “slave-like” conditions — and hiring minors. The factory has employed at least one girl who is only 14-years-old. I’m sure Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa Middleton would be shocked and disappointed with the news.

According to the Repórter Brasil story, (where the news broke), Zara’s supplier AHA Indústria e Comércio de Roupas Ltda., has been under investigation by São Paulo’s Bureau of Labor and Employment since May. The Bureau deemed working conditions for 52 people unsafe and unsanitary at one of the factories that was responsible for producing pants for Zara Brazil. Workers were working 16-hour shifts in windowless factories, earning R$274 and R$460 a month (which is $170 to $286). This figure falls way below Brazil’s minimum wage, which is R$545 ($339).

In yet another factory in São Paulo, a 14-year-old girl was found working under “slave-like conditions.”

So far, Zara has been charged with 52 infractions by the Ministry of Labor and Employment in Brazil. Giuliana Cassiano Orlandi, an auditor who is involved in the investigation, told Repórter Brasil Zara, “should be responsible for all of its suppliers, and it is a duty of the company to be aware of how its merchandise is being produced.” Apparently that’s not all — the report addresses the fact that 30 other factories are producing for Zara with similar conditions.

With all the accusations, the group that owns Zara, Inditex, issued a statement denying any knowledge that their supplier contracted factories that employed workers under illegal or unsound conditions. “This action goes against Inditex’s Code of Conduct and the company has zero tolerance for infringements of this kind,” the release stated. “This case constitutes a grave infringement of the Inditex Code of Conduct for External Manufacturers and Workshops, a code with which this supplier was contractually obligated to comply with. The Code of Conduct stipulates the requirements with which all suppliers, whether direct or subcontracted, must comply, and aims to safeguard workers’ rights to the fullest extent.”

They go on to say that Zara is taking action to “immediately rectify the situation.”

What do you make of the whole situation?

Katrina Mitzeliotis