We publish an appeal of a group of migrant women working in the Yoox warehouse in Bologna. Yoox is a fast growing pret-a-porter retailer on-line, conditions in the warehouses are very similar to other warehouses in the logistics sector and the global garment industry, with a wide use of subcontracting. With the pandemic, the company has changed shifts, with heavy impact on the workers’ lives. For working mothers it has become almost impossible to organise. Many of them have left the company, but others have initiated a struggle against the alternative between being mothers or workers. Supported by the Women’s Assembly of the Migrant Coordination and by the Sicobas union, they started their strike on November 25th the day against male violence over women, to denounce that differently from what it claims Yoox despises women and exploits them as it does because they are women and because they are migrants. The appeal has been signed by more than 1500 people so far (see here: https://www.coordinamentomigranti.org/2020/12/09/donne-che-non-hanno-paura-sostieni-lo-sciopero-delle-operaie-yoox/). Public names are also stepping forward. Yoox first reacted with absolute silence to the strike until it has been limited to the factory gates, but now is reacting to this widening support with a communication campaign arguing that they care about women. They are also pushing messages in the social media maintaining that the responsibility is on the contractor company and not on them. Given that Yoox is a company that has offices and operates in different markets worldwide and given that this struggle could be an inspiration for all the women working in essential sectors who have seen their working conditions worsened during the pandemic, it is important to broaden the support. 

We invite everyone to stand in solidarity with the struggle of the women striking against Yoox, sign the appeal by sending an email to this address womenstrikeyoox@gmail.com and let it circulate as widely as possible.

We are the workers who have been working for years with subcontracts for Yoox, the clothing e-commerce giant, which sells its image around the world as a “sensitive” company, caring for children, diversity, and people. Still, we are those who work from dawn to sunset behind the glittering windows of the large headquarters of the Interporto in Bologna. We are almost all women who work to live and to build a future, we are mothers who work to give a future to their sons and daughters. We are many and we come from all over the world, we are Italian and migrant. Being forced to quit our job would mean for us to give up our autonomy and to risk our residence permits which relate to our work. To accept these working conditions would mean to renounce to spend time with our sons and daughters. We are the ones who, with our work, have made this company grow, which today has become a leading multinational company in his sector. During the pandemic, we did not stop working, we checked the clothes, bagged them, mended them, prepared them to be shipped. Our work allowed Yoox to increase its profits thanks to Covid-19. But we are also the brave women who in these weeks have still woken up at dawn to strike, to fight to keep a job that allows us to live, but also to say that the work that Yoox boasts of offering for us is just a blackmail.

The shifts that Yoox is imposing on us with his ‘sensitivity’ do not leave us with what we can call a life. The first shift starts at 5.30 am, the second ends at 10.30 pm. The big company that takes care of the children doesn’t allow us to take our children to school or put them to bed at night, and with the wages it pays us we can’t afford a babysitter. We have to take our lunch from home because we don’t have access to the canteen or to meal vouchers which the company says it cannot afford. We need to eat in 15 minutes because that is the time of the break we are given. At work we have to face the pressure of bosses, the contemptuous and racist attitudes of those who think they can boss us because we are women and migrants and that for them, we are only workers to exploit: this is how Yoox cares about diversity and people. Yoox wants to force us to quit the job because, as mothers, we cannot always be available. It tries to get rid of us because we have been working for them for years and we never got tired of fighting for what is ours. For the innovation company, our contracts are old-fashioned stuff; contracts that need to be substituted with flexible and precarious ones, better suited to the spirit of the times and their profits.

On Yoox’s website there are pictures of independent women, young coloured people, beautiful and happy children. In its warehouses there are us, women, migrants, blacks, East-Europeans, who toil and invent everything to carry on family and work. Yoox doesn’t care about our independence, it doesn’t care about the residence permit that we have to pay for and for which we are forced to accept massacring jobs, it doesn’t care, or rather it suits the company, to exploit us. About our children growing up without us and without the citizenship that we should have, but we don’t get because our income is too low, Yoox doesn’t care. This is Yoox, this is the innovative reality behind the sparkling glasses: racism, exploitation and machismo are the real “talents” of this luxury company, this is its innovation.

During the strike on the 25th of November, the head of the department yelled at us that he “can’t see us”. But the world sees us, and thanks to us it can now see beyond the windows of Yoox and all those places that make money on our skin at the Interporto and beyond. As women, as migrants and as mothers we appeal to all women and all those who can support us in this battle to get what we are entitled to from Yoox, and because this battle is about the freedom of all women and the possibility to fight against racist and male exploitation.

Useful links:

? Email to sign the appeal: womenstrikeyoox@gmail.com

?Facebook page of the strikers: https://www.facebook.com/Women-Strike-Yoox-101182448550321

? French translation: https://www.transnational-strike.info/app/uploads/2020/12/APPELLO-FRA.pdf

?Spanish translation: https://www.transnational-strike.info/app/uploads/2020/12/APPELLO-SPANISH.pdf

?Pictures of the pickets and the demonstration in the city center of Bologna here: https://www.facebook.com/coordinamentomigranti.bologna.7

? Instagram profile of the Women’s Assembly of the Migrants Coordination: https://www.instagram.com/assembleadonnemigranti/