Turkey: Investigation tracks production of 'sustainable' Zara hoody, revealing garment worker exploitation & low wages

Zara R-E-S-P-E-C-T hoody (Source: Public Eye)

In November 2019, Public Eye released findings of its investigation tracing the production of a 'Respect' Zara hoody, revealing worker exploitation and low wages in the Turkish factories where it was produced.

Based on field research, analysis of disclosure by Zara and detailed estimates on how the costs of the hoody are distributed throughout the supply chain, the researchers conclude that the price pressure on producers is so high that those who pay the highest price for Inditex’s profit are the people who make the business possible in the first place – the factory workers. Research was carried out in partnership with Schone Kleren Campagne and the Collectif Éthique sur l’étiquette (Dutch and French partner organisations within the Clean Clothes Campaign network) and research group Le Basic.

Inditex - Zara’s parent company - disputes the findings, and says the report is "based on erroneous premises and inaccurate reporting". Further company comments can be found in the article linked below. 

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21 November 2019

Inditex disputes investigation into garment production of Zara hoody & allegations of low wages

Author: Marc Bain, Quartzy

"Zara's sustainable sweatshirt raises troubling fashion ethics issues", 21 November 2019

... An investigation by Public Eye... traced the course of... a €26.67 ($29.50) hoodie from Zara’s “Join Life” line, which it markets as sustainable and says is made by suppliers that received top ranks (pdf) in audits. In estimating the costs involved in making the hoodie, Public Eye says the wages workers earned at each step of production aren’t nearly enough to live on... 

Inditex, Zara’s parent company... [said] “Public Eye’s report is based on erroneous premises and inaccurate reporting,”... The spokesperson notes that Inditex’s true sourcing price “is well above the one used in the report” and that “workers at these factories are paid more than the amounts mentioned in Public Eye’s report.”

... [It] asserts that all factories involved in making the hoodies “have been registered with and supervised by Inditex prior to Public Eye contacting us. Moreover, they all have workers’ representatives responsible for the defense of workers’ social and labor rights. This is in line with our traceability and compliance policies, and there are no issues regarding the salaries of the workers in these factories.”...

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20 November 2019

Turkey: Price pressures on production of Zara hoody linked to low wages & garment worker exploitation, reveals investigation

Author: Timo Kollbrunner, Public Eye

"Following the tracks of a Zara hoody", November 2019

... We followed the tracks of a [Zara "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" slogan] hoody’s production and didn’t give up until we had found the Turkish factories where it was produced. Our conclusion: even for Zara’s [sustainable] ‘Join Life’ line... the price pressure on producers is so immense that ultimately those who pay the highest price for Inditex’s profit are the people who make the business possible in the first place – the factory workers...

Our field research shows that the pricing pressure that Zara exerts... [on producers] has ramifications on those who Zara claims are “at the centre” – the factory workers. Fashion chains like Inditex have the power to push down prices because of their high sourcing volumes 

We hear about monthly wages... only about a third of... an actual living wage... [and] excessively long working hours...

The main conclusions of...[distribution of the supply chain costs and earnings] calculations are...:

  • ...[Zara/Inditex] sells the ‘Respect’ hoody at... just under 27 euros... [T]he firm makes 4.20 euros in (pre-tax) profit on each hoody.

  • The income and wages of all the workers involved in production... totalled an estimated 2.08 euros... less than half of the profit that Zara makes.

  • For the workers... to be able to life off their wages, their pay would need to be multiplied by a factor of 1.9 – 3 depending on the stage of production. Nevertheless, the difference per hoody would only equate to 3.62 euros – slightly less than what Inditex alone earns from each item.

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