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Economy

Gucci Workers In China Unite! But Luxury Isn't To Blame

Essay: Recent charges that Gucci China workers faced sweatshop-like conditions expose bigger questions about Chinese society. The pursuit of luxury in itself is not a problem, but its side-effects can be.

A Chinese tank rolls past a Gucci store in Beijing (gadgetdan)
A Chinese tank rolls past a Gucci store in Beijing (gadgetdan)
Yang Tingting

BEIJING - The open letter addressed to the top management of Gucci China from its former employees, who resigned en masse last month, ripped the veil off the luxury brand and its working practices. The public suddenly realized that people who work for luxurious brands are not leading a lifestyle that matches their employer's image. They are but ordinary folks who have to work hard like you and me.

Of course, there are reasons why the public has the illusion that those who work for a big name are somehow different. In fact, they often think of themselves as different, and attach the halo of the brand around their own heads. The common arrogance of these luxury brand staff may explain why the Gucci workers didn't gain much sympathy when they resigned over working conditions. The employees say Gucci imposed "sweatshop" conditions on their workers who were forced to stand for more than 14 hours a day, without rest, food or water – and were denied fair overtime pay.

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Coronavirus

The Main COVID Risk Now: Long COVID

Death rates are down, masks are off, but many who have been infected by COVID have still not recovered. Long COVID continues to be hard to diagnose and treatments are still in the developmental stage.

Long COVID feels like a never-ending nightmare for those who suffer from it.

Jessica Berthereau

PARIS — The medical examination took longer than expected in the Parc de Castelnau-le-Lez clinic, near the southern French city of Montpellier. Jocelyne had come to see a specialist for long COVID-19, and exits the appointment slowly with help from her son. The meeting lasted more than an hour, twice as long as planned.

“I’m a fighter, you know, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, I’ve been around the world twice… I’m not saying this to brag, but to tell you my background," says the 40-year-old. "These days, I’m exhausted, I’m not hungry, I no longer drive, I can’t work anymore, I have restless legs syndrome.” She pauses before adding sadly: “I can’t read anymore either.”

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