Gucci announced today that they're trying to address some disturbing allegations about their company's working conditions in China, which were made by former employees via an open letter published in a Chinese newspaper. WWD reports:
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.
Gucci points out that all of the complaints come from a "small group of former employees" and has reportedly refused to pay the settlement or any of the alleged outstanding wages. However, the company did acknowledge that their Shenzhen outpost was "mismanaged," and they've since replaced the senior management and the assistant store manager. They also set up a "confidential communications channel between sales staff and senior management" and reevaluated their store management training. Per a statement from the company:
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.
It's worth noting that these complaints come from employees in a retail store, not a factory; if employees are mistreated in a visible setting surrounded by customers, one can only imagine what factory conditions must be like.