Investigation into staff abuse claims at Gucci store
Labour authorities in Shenzhen announced yesterday they would conduct an 'all-round investigation' into complaints of staff being abused at an outlet of the European luxury-goods conglomerate Gucci Group, Xinhua reported.
That case, together with the detention of Walmart store workers in southwestern China over mislabeling pork, once again puts under scrutiny the management of multinational companies.
The alleged ill-treatment of employees at Gucci's main store in Shenzhen was brought to wider attention by five former workers of the shop in an open letter to senior executives in late September.
They claimed the shop set them more than 100 rules, including requiring permission to use the toilet or drink water, besides making them working extra hours with no extra pay and cover the costs of any items stolen from the shop.
Shop assistants were allegedly forced to stand for over 10 hours a day. One of the five former employees behind the letter told the Chinese edition of the Global Times: 'Two of my former colleagues miscarried because we all had to stand so long each day.'
In response, the company issued a statement saying it 'does not and will not endorse or tolerate the alleged malpractices'. One of its China executives said on Wednesday the shop manager responsible had been removed from post on the grounds of conduct not compatible with the company policy.
But Xinhua yesterday reported some shop employees claimed the removal of one or two shop managers was merely an attempt by the company to divert public attention.
In the Wal-Mart case, its stores in Chongqing, a major city in the southwest, were earlier this week made to pay 2.69 million yuan (HK$3.28 million) for selling pork that was mislabelled as organic over a period of 20 months, plus compensation to customers.
All of the 13 Wal-Mart stores in Chongqing were ordered to close for a 15-day period.
By Wednesday, 37 Wal-Mart employees had been placed under police control: two who were formally arrested, 25 who were detained, seven who were at home under surveillance, and three who were waiting for trial outside of custody, according to The Beijing News.
The two events have aroused widespread criticism among internet users. According to Xinhua, many complained that the practices of such major companies and brand owners had failed to match their international status. They are being asked to mend their ways and to be more committed to fulfilling their social responsibilities.