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Zara Canada faces allegations of forced labour by local watchdog

By Rachel Douglass


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Interior of Zara's Paris store. Credits: Inditex.

In what has become a continued crackdown on potential malpractices within the supply chains of various fashion companies, a Canadian watchdog is set to launch yet another investigation into claims of forced labour, this time at Zara Canada.

The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) is already currently carrying out a number of similar investigations with the Canadian subsidiaries of brands like Diesel, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, after a complaint was filed by a coalition of 28 organisations from the region back in 2022.

This time, however, its eyes have been turned to Zara Canada which, like its peers, has found itself at the centre of allegations that claim it is either using or benefitting from Uyghur forced labour.

The claims come in relation to a number of suppliers that seemingly have relations with Zara Canada, each of which are based in or have links to the Xinjiang region in China, where there has been reported evidence of forced labour among the allegedly incarcerated Uyghur Muslim population.

Xinjiang, which produces around a fifth of the world’s cotton, has been subject to a number of investigations for such claims over recent years, including one by the United Nations, which concluded that there was in fact evidence of potential forced labour in the region.

In response, an array of Western retailers, including ones that source their cotton from the area, had expressed concern, with some denouncing the country’s reputed methods and others stating that they were to cut ties with Xinjiang-based suppliers entirely.

This supposedly rang true for Zara’s parent company, Inditex, which, according to CORE’s complainants, had stated it did not have commercial relations with any factory in Xinjiang, a statement that is now alleged to be contradictory.

CORE said that in order to address the allegations, it had decided to launch an independent fact-finding investigation, with it further noting that an additional factor that led to this decision was Zara Canada’s unsatisfactory response to the complaint.

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