“Working” refugees


Marks & Spencer labels shown in the program

Three days ago we talked about the entrepreneurship story of the founder of Inditex, the matrix of Zara. We mentioned the shadows that this company had, but we didn’t get into any detail. BBC has done it for us. They broadcasted on Sunday a program about how Turkish factories employ Syrian refugee kids to make clothes. Zara was, together with other big chains like Marks & Spencer, one of the retails that would afterwards distribute those clothes.

What BBC’s Panorama showed was the conditions in which refugees, both adults and children, are “employed” in some Turkish factories; they had access to contracts stablishing a payment of one euro per hour. Also, the working conditions, the safety measures and the number of daily hours were far from meeting any decent standard. At least not ours, maybe those standards are not far from Turkish ones, but that’s what happens when you pay a country to get all the refugees you don’t want, because Turkey is already safe, no Human Rights are violated there. Right, Europe?

Let’s get back to the topic. The big Europeans brands that are using these companies are suppliers have already said that they are investigating or that they didn’t know because it was a supplier of a supplier. Of course, they condemn child labor and the exploitation of refugees, some of them already explained that they are collaborating with NGOs to stop that… But these companies are getting millions every day, and in order to do that, being completely fair and caring is not always their most profitable way.

But hey! We are all furious now… go and check your closest Zara or Marks & Spencer shop… I bet it’s not empty. So, who’s the last responsible?

We have always heard that the problem of migration is in the origin, that we have to act there. And it’s true, the drama of these people is not because they want to arrive to Europe; it’s because they don’t want to leave their countries. But there is not much to do for regular citizens about it. Also not many chances for us to leave our jobs and studies to go to the Mediterranean and help. But we do have a power where we are. And it’s bigger than we think.


This case that BBC unveiled has had a big media effect, mainly because the firms involved are the ones we use every day and because we feel it close enough. But it’s just a tiny extra problem in the life of Syrian refugees. And for them it might not be even a problem, because in their conditions, finding a job like that, even if it’s completely unfair and unsafe, it’s the only option to keep surviving.

But this problem goes much further than Syrian refugees. They are usually the most dramatic and present cases, but there is much more out there about the migration topic, also if we don’t know about it. Therefore, our “Migration: From challenge to opportunity” will try to bring some light into one of the most complex of today’s challenges.

Get your tickets already in: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/aspire-conference-2016-navigating-the-crossroads-tickets-27681272431

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