Shakira blasts labor abuses in statement

Singer-songwriter Shakira said Monday she never would have modeled for a clothing line had she known about allegations of unfair labor practices against the company.

The songstress was awakened at 2 a.m. Monday in Melbourne, Australia, and shown a New York Daily News article reporting that Delia’s – a hip teen fashion line that uses Shakira in its spring catalogue and on posters – made clothes in a Brooklyn factory embroiled in a wage dispute.

Shakira, 25, instructed her spokesman to issue a statement in Spanish and English “to all the garment workers in Brooklyn and everywhere around the world.”

“I support the fight for just wages,” she said in the statement. “I would never betray your faith in me.”

“I was unaware of the dispute in Brooklyn,” she added. “I would never knowingly wear any clothes or support any company who produced clothing with alleged wage and labor violations.”

Delia’s says it, too, was unaware of labor abuses at the Brooklyn factory, which it stopped using last year.

Last week, the Daily News published the story of 38-year-old Maria Arriaga, a Mexican immigrant seeking to blow the whistle on intimidation and sweatshop conditions at Danmar Finishing, a Bushwick garment contractor with 80 employees.

In October 2000, Arriaga went to the U.S. Labor Department to report how Danmar laborers had been forced to toil overtime without pay for years. The agency confirmed the allegation but did not pursue the wage case in court. This month, Arriaga was fired, but federal wage cops have yet to file a retaliation charge against Danmar.

Rae Glass, a spokeswoman for wage and hour officials in Washington, would only say yesterday that her agency is “working very hard to bring this case to a successful resolution.”

Monday, Arriaga and members of Make the Road by Walking, a Brooklyn community group pressing the Danmar case, hailed the news of Shakira’s statement – with a caveat.

“While it’s good to know that Shakira is against sweatshops, it’s important that people do more to assure clothing is made under just and humane conditions,” said Steve Jenkins, a lawyer for the group.