Chinese newspaper Global Times published an open letter from employees at the Shenzhen Gucci flagship store this week, which outlines complaints that five employees are making in a suit against the company. The letter asserts "inhuman" working conditions in the Gucci flagship, notably, working 14 hour shifts without payment, having to ask permission before drinking water or using the bathroom, and being prevented from spending more than five minutes in the restroom. Supposedly the letter includes 100 rules regulating employee behavior at the store, The letter also details the alleged illnesses that have resulted for the working conditions, including two former employees, who had abortions because they were standing for such long periods each day.
According to the letter, a former manager at Gucci's Beijing office admitted that mistreatment of employees is rife at all levels in the brand's mainland China stores. She says, "These problems are not associated with the brand. Rather, they were caused by the mismanagement of Gucci's China branch."
The five employees filing the complaint, via attorney, Yang Qianwu, are demanding a $15,000 settlement for unpaid "overtime wages" that accrued over two years of employment.
Gucci has "rejected the former employees’ request for compensation, and as of today, Gucci claims that it 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.
This isn't the first labor-related suit brought against companies' Chinese counterparts. Walmart and Apple have also faced similar suits in the past several years. Also, interesting to note, the U.S. Department of Labor defines a sweatshop as an entity that violates more than one of the U.S. labor laws, such as paying minimum wage, paying overtime, paying on time, and maintaining time cards. That's not a very difficult standard to meet.