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Gucci’s Design Studio Controversy: Relocation Sparks Employee Strike

by | Nov 28, 2023 | News

Gucci’s Design Studio Controversy: Relocation Sparks Employee Strike

Gucci, the renowned Italian luxury brand under the helm of French group Kering, faces a tumultuous period as plans to relocate a significant part of its design studio from Rome to Milan have led to an unprecedented strike. The move has triggered unrest among about 50 employees, igniting claims of “mass redundancy in disguise” and raising concerns about the future of the iconic brand.

The Dispute

In a surprising turn of events, Gucci announced its intentions in October to transfer 153 of its 219 design employees from Rome to Milan, nearly 380 miles away. This decision sparked immediate protest among workers, who perceive the relocation as a veiled mass dismissal strategy rather than a simple change in location.

Amid the banners declaring slogans like “Gucci cuts but doesn’t sew” and “At Gucci, redundancy is fashionable,” Chiara Giannotti, a union representative, highlighted the central role of the Rome design office in Gucci’s creative process. This pivotal space serves as the birthplace of collections, a creative hub where designers and couturiers collaborate.

The Employee Concerns

The employees express deep-seated worries, citing concerns of reduced staff numbers and inadequate conditions for the relocation. There’s a fear of marginalized employees, particularly those unable to move due to familial obligations or unsatisfactory terms. For some, relocating within a few months poses logistical challenges, especially for single parents or those with children.

Federica Ricci from the Filctem-Cgil union in the Lazio region emphasized the gravity of the situation, considering the uncertain fate of the remaining 66 employees in Rome. The demand remains for equal treatment for all involved, whether transferred to Milan or relocated within other Kering companies in Rome or Florence.

Gucci’s Response

Gucci, in response to these claims, asserted that the relocation plan does not involve any reduction in personnel and will adhere to existing regulations. The company has also assured it will provide necessary economic and support measures for the affected staff.

Additionally, the brand stressed the opportunities for enhanced collaboration between the creative team and strategic functions already based in Milan, emphasizing the potential synergies resulting from this move.

Historical Context of Gucci

This current upheaval contrasts starkly with the brand’s historic journey, marred by internal conflicts and familial disputes that date back to its inception in 1921. The brand’s growth and recognition as a symbol of Italian luxury faced turmoil amidst family feuds, legal battles, and tragic events, reflecting a turbulent history.

As Gucci grapples with this latest chapter in its history, the fate of its design studio and the well-being of its employees hang in the balance. The dispute underscores the complexities of balancing tradition, creativity, and business imperatives within the high-stakes world of luxury fashion.

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