Zara’s parent company, Inditex, has hit back at claims from the Brazilian government that it has failed to put right employment abuses in its supply chain.
The Spanish business faces a fine of up to 25m Brazilian real (£5.29m) from the country’s government after the Brazilian labour ministry found evidence that 7,000 workers had been poorly treated since 2012.
A total of 67 factories are covered by the report, published on behalf of the Brazilian Labour ministry by the São Paulo-based pressure group Repórter Brasil on May 12, in which it is alleged that workers are subject to excessive overtime, with some staff working longer than 16 hours a day or not having a single day off in a week, though Inditex says that many of these issues have been resolved.
It follows on from an investigation by the ministryin 2011, which unveiled sweatshop practices. Following the report Inditex signed an agreement to improve conditions for workers by carrying out better and more frequent inspections.
Responding to the labour ministry report, Inditex said the majority of incidents were minor infringements such as seating issues, and that it had already worked to improve conditions.
It also said the report contained inaccuracies and that it has in fact carried out over 2,800 audits on its Brazilian supply chain since 2012. It pointed out that Zara Brazil only accounts for 15% of the production of the 67 factories covered in the report, and that the remaining 85% is covered by other Brazilian brands, which were not named in the report.
Inditex corporate social responsibility director Felix Poza told Drapers the company has refuted the reports and considers them to lack credible grounds.
However, the pressure group SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) claimed Zara does not have “sufficient oversight” of its supply chain, resulting in an “obscure supply chain” in which human rights violations can occur.
“To meet tight deadlines and to be able to complete unanticipated orders, manufacturers may subcontract certain production processes or even shift complete orders to other factories and workplaces, often without informing the buyer,” it said.