Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Zara employees are timed in the bathroom

Published 16 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Zara store in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Employees of clothing retailer Zara describe an extremely controlling work environment. Clocked bathroom visits, discrimination and a robotic existence are described as everyday life for employees of the clothing chain in Sweden.

– If we are in the bathroom for a long time, they follow us and check us, says a Zara employee.

In a report by Schibsted newspaper Aftonbladet, 39 employees and former employees were interviewed about working conditions at Zara, which is part of the world’s largest clothing chain, Spain’s Inditex. Seven of them are currently employed, 12 worked there last year and 20 left in 2023.

A recurring criticism among those who have worked at the chain is its strict bathroom restrictions.

– If I was in the bathroom a minute too long, they would run up to me and say, ‘Why are you a minute late?’, says one employee.

They also reportedly kept a list of bathroom visitors and had to report bathroom visits to the cashier, where they were clocked and the time deducted from their break.

– They clock us, and if we are in the bathroom for a long time, they follow us and check. Then they stand outside and say, ‘You’ve been in the bathroom a lot, what’s going on?’, says another employee.

Life is also described as robotic and a “very toxic” place to work.

– You have to be like a puppet. You are not allowed to say what you think or feel. You are their slave, explains another former employee.

“More innocent than guilty”

Employees also testify to the systematic harassment of people with foreign backgrounds, calling them “those who steal and cause chaos” during meetings. Employees were ordered to carry a clothing alarm in their pockets, and if they saw a foreigner or someone else who was considered suspicious, they were to activate the alarm themselves to search the person.

– We were told to keep an eye out for people with immigrant backgrounds. I had to quit because I refused to carry the alarm in my pocket, says a former employee.

– You should have an alarm in your pocket. If you suspect someone, you have to wait until they come near the alarm. Then you have to activate the alarm. This was a daily occurrence. But there were more suspicions than attempted thefts. More innocent than guilty, explains a former security guard who worked for Zara.

“Zero tolerance”

But Zara insists it does not discriminate against customers or employees.

– We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination or harassment.

There are 13 Zara stores and 445 employees in Sweden. Inditex is owned by 88-year-old Spaniard Amancio Ortega. He is said to be the twelfth richest person in the world with a fortune of SEK 1,100 billion.

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