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Brazil: From moral responsibility to legal liability?

“From moral responsibility to legal liability?  Modern day slavery conditions in the global garment supply chain and the need to strengthen regulatory frameworks: The case of Inditex-Zara in Brazil”, May 2015

…In August 2011, Brazilian…government inspectors found 15 immigrants working and living under deplorable conditions in two small workshops in São Paolo. Workers had to work for long days…and were restricted in their freedom of movement…[and their condition was classified]…as ‘analogous to slavery’…[They]…were sewing…for Zara…of Inditex…The workshops where the abuses took place were contracted by Zara’s supplier…Zara Brasil exercised directive power over the supply chain and…should be seen as the real employer and should be held legally responsible for the situation of the rescued workers. The company faced several sanctions…[including the risk of entering the dirty list]...[and]…has been fighting these…in court…[, challenging]...the legitimacy of the dirty list as a tool. The…report questions this litigation strategy...[This]…slave labour scandal…has led to…improvements in the company’s operations…[:]…significant increase in the number of inspections, strengthening of its supplier monitoring mechanisms and investments in immigrant communities’ projects…The…research provides indications that the company’s supply chain monitoring is not 100% effective…In its response to the…scandal, Inditex combined progressive measures in the voluntary CSR realm with reactive litigation in the legal realm...The…report demonstrates...that private audit systems and certifications are not sufficient to overcome labour precarisation and human rights abuses…Recommendations:For  the Brazilian Government Establish…strict liability of companies in the top of the production chain over labour and human rights violations in the production of their own brands. Take measures to guarantee…the legal status of the ‘dirty list’…Strengthen the capacity of the labour inspection…For brands and retailers Identify, prevent and mitigate risks and negative impacts in their supply chain…Establish consistency between the legal and CSR strategy. Map supply chain and provide transparency…Establish or participate in…credible grievance mechanisms…

Part of the following stories

Brazil: Despite improvements, Zara needs to do more to comply with commitments to end & prevent forced labour, NGOs say; company comments

Brasil: Apesar dos avanços, ONGs dizem que Zara precisa fazer mais para respeitar os compromissos de acabar e prevenir o trabalho forçado; empresa comenta