SHANGHAI — Gucci today said it has taken a number of actions following newspaper reports in China that sales staff have lodged complaints against the luxury brand for “inhuman” working conditions.
This story first appeared in the October 12, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The state-owned Chinese newspaper Global Times reported that five employees in a Gucci flagship located in the southern city of Shenzhen wrote an open letter that outlines workplace grievances, including 100 rules that regulate employee behavior. Such rules include having to ask permission before going to the bathroom and drinking water.
The newspaper reported that the former employees also complained about long working hours without payment. One former employee told the Global Times that two of her colleagues who were pregnant had to have abortions because of standing all day on their feet. Others complained of other work-related illnesses. Employees were also upset about never receiving discount cards for Gucci products, the paper said.
The staff is seeking a settlement of 100,000 yuan, or nearly $15,700 at current exchange rates, for overtime wages.
A former manager in Gucci’s Beijing office told the Global Times that the “problems are not associated with the brand” but rather “by mismanagement of Gucci’s China branch.” According to the Global Times, Gucci’s China office told the News Express, a newspaper published in Shenzhen, that it is investigating the complaints. The News Express also reported that Gucci has rejected the former employees’ request for compensation.
Gucci said it has monitored the complaints, which it contended came from a “small group of former employees.” The company said it has investigated the complaints and as a result has taken a number of actions, including replacing the senior management involved, as well as the assistant store manager; establishing a confidential communications channel between sales staff and senior management; strengthening its store management training, and reiterating its guiding principles.
“Furthermore, Gucci has proactively engaged external consultants to conduct a comprehensive review to support ongoing actions that can enhance our organizational structure, the welfare and training of our people, talent recruitment and retention and other business practices in China,” the company said, adding, “Gucci always sets and seeks to achieve high standards for itself, its management, people and products, wherever we operate our business. Our business achievements in the fast growing China market come as a result of the commitment of our employees. As a responsible employer, we will continuously listen to our employees and nurture an enjoyable working environment by encouraging the practice of treating colleagues with respect and care.”