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Clothing Company, Zara denies abuse of Swedish workers

Friday, 23 March 2012
The Spanish clothing chain, Zara's Swedish management rejects allegations of harassment of staff brought before it recently.

In a Swedish television investigation program, the company’s Swedish operations were exposed to have put their workers in un acceptable situation as such they were criticised on Wednesday harshly.

Zara receive sharp criticism for how it manages its staff and to use methods similar to harassment against it workers reports the Swedish television program on Wednesday.

"As soon as you begin to question and assert your rights then you are a troublemaker. Then it's just as well to find a new job, otherwise they break you down until you stop yourself, "says one person who worked at Zara to Swedish television in the investigative program.

Clothing chain Zara has nearly 2,000 stores in 77 countries and is part of Inditex, one of the world's largest fashion groups. Inditex has been listed on Spanish stock exchanges and generated sales of Skr120 billion last year - almost as much as its chief competitor, Swedish H & M.

Zara came to Sweden nine years ago and has eight stores and 350 employees.

In the program it was witnessed that a number of employees and former employees at Zara were operating in a destructive culture where harassment and ostracism is part of punishment for employees who question the heads or claim their rights.

Trade union has criticized the working conditions for Zara for years. The union filed Zara in 2010 to the Work Environment Authority and demanded immediate action from the company to improve working conditions which they believed led to psychological ill health which also contributed to staff turnover.

Roy Stafsén is the mediator of Trade in Gothenburg in charge of clothing stores and shoes. She confirms the impression from the program and feel that Zara's hierarchy makes it hard to get in touch with the right person at the company.

Following the program, Zara's management contacted the Trade center to schedule an appointment.
"We wanted to wait until we had seen the program before we booked an appointment, but my thought is that we should meet as soon as possible, "said Roy Stafsén.

As recently as a few weeks ago she had a meeting with Zara's management to discuss overtime pay, the right to freedom of time and the problems of who will be the union's counterpart in negotiations because the store manager does not have the mandate, but that it is always someone from the headquarters in Stockholm who will be involved.

Zara and Inditex writes that "The allegations of abuse that have emerged in the Swedish television program will of course be taken seriously and addressed as far as possible given that most of the information is provided anonymously. At the same time, Zara and Inditex want to express their support that their employees in Sweden are doing a wonderful job in the open, creative and inclusive work environment."
By Team

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