About 50 Gucci employees in Italy have gone on strike in protest against plans to relocate a significant part of its design studio team from Rome to Milan in what they claim is a “mass redundancy in disguise”.
Gucci, which is owned by the French-based luxury goods group Kering, announced in October it would move 153 of its 219 design employees from the Italian capital to Milan, 380 miles away in Lombardy.
In response to the move, which the workers claim is tantamount to a collective dismissal, some employees staged a four-hour strike on Monday, the first industrial action by creative professionals in Gucci’s 102-year history.
Protesters outside the Rome offices on Monday held up banners that read: “Gucci cuts but doesn’t sew” and “At Gucci, redundancy is fashionable.”
According to Chiara Giannotti, a union representative, the design office in Rome is the heart of Gucci, where designers and couturiers work and where all collections are born.
She claimed Kering was taking advantage of the restructuring to reduce staff numbers and push out employees who had been offered unsatisfactory conditions or could not leave Rome because of familial obligations.
Not all employees were in a position to move to another city within a few months, Giannotti said, especially those with children or single parents, and risked being left without alternatives.
The unions have demanded that the company reconsider its decision. “For us, this is a collective dismissal because not everyone has been offered the conditions to allow for a transfer, so many people will lose their jobs,” said Federica Ricci, the regional secretary at the Filctem-Cgil union in the Lazio region.
Unions argue that the fate of the 66 other employees who are expected to remain in Rome is also uncertain. The unions demand equal conditions for all employees being transferred to Milan or moved to other Kering companies in Rome or Florence.
Gucci said the relocation did “not envisage any reduction in personnel” and would be “implemented in full compliance with current regulations”. The company added that it had also provided economic and support measures for affected staff.
In a statement about the move to Milan, Gucci said: “The creative director and the involved teams will have the opportunity to work closely with the brand’s strategic functions already based in [the city], thereby maximising the necessary interactions and synergies.”
The luxurious fashion brand was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921. Under the guidance of his son, Aldo Gucci, the brand flourished and gained global recognition as an emblem of Italian dolce vita.
The Gucci family faced several internal conflicts that stirred up trouble in 1969 when Aldo’s son Giorgio launched his own venture called Gucci Boutique, resulting in the first of many familial feuds.
The situation escalated with the death of Guccio Gucci’s third son, Rodolfo, in May 1983. Rodolfo’s son, Maurizio, inherited the majority stake in the company but initiated legal action against Aldo to gain complete control over Gucci.
In March 1995, Maurizio Gucci was fatally shot in the lobby of the fashion house’s office in Milan. His former wife, Patrizia Reggiani, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for hiring a hitman to carry out the murder.
Gucci appointed Sabato de Sarno as artistic director in January, replacing Alessandro Michele, who had made a significant impact on the label’s transformation over seven years with his eccentric and gender-fluid designs and unconventional shows.
Source : TheGuardian