MILAN -- Gucci workers went on strike in Milan and Florence Tuesday to protest the previously announced closing of the Milan headquarters and the resulting loss of jobs when the headquarters move back to Florence.

"Gucci, which has been one of the most prestigious brands in luxury leather goods since 1922, has decided to institute a drastic cost-cutting cure," said a statement issued by the workers at the Milan headquarters in Piazza San Fedele. "The consequence of this plan is the loss of some 40 positions in a sector that has already been heavily hit in the past few months.

"The current situation at Gucci is the natural consequence of a lack of corporate strategy, which has been accentuated even more by the new ownership," the statement added, referring to international investment bank Investcorp, which acquired complete control of Gucci after buying out Maurizio Gucci's 50 percent stake last year.

Union officials weren't available for comment; they were in a day-long meeting with the striking workers to discuss the situation.It could not be learned how many workers were involved in the walkout.

Although Gucci hasn't said how many of the 45 staffers Gucci has in Milan will be transferred to Florence, sources familiar with the situation expect that only a handful will stay on. Gucci employs some 340 people in Florence, where it has kept administrative and production operations.

When Gucci confirmed the decision to close its Milan offices last week, a spokeswoman explained that the move was necessary under a strategy to maintain the company's competitiveness in a difficult market.

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