Swedish ready-to-wear giant H&M is preparing to lay off more than a thousand employees in Spain who were already on short-time work due to the covid-19 pandemic, the union announced on Tuesday Spanish Workers’ commissions.
The group “today informed employee representatives of the launch of a layoff plan which it said will affect more than 1,000 people” and the closure of 30 stores, the union said in a statement. Contacted by AFP, the management of the ready-to-wear giant was not immediately reachable.
“Unjustified and disproportionate”
“H & M goes from partial unemployment to dismissals in an unjustified and disproportionate way,” denounced Workers’ Commissions. “Even if it is true that there may have been a change in consumption habits, this does not in any way justify such a level of layoffs, especially since H & M benefited from the new financing conditions of the partial unemployment introduced by the government during the pandemic ”, continued the union.
Extending public funding for short-time working has been one of the main measures taken by Pedro Sanchez’s leftist government to limit the explosion in unemployment caused by the health crisis. Its cost is staggering for Spanish public finances, with more than 40 billion euros spent since the start of the pandemic.
But this funding is accompanied by a ban on dismissals for companies for six months, under penalty of having to repay the aid received.
H&M saw its annual net profit divided by ten in 2020 under the effect of the pandemic and decided to close 350 of its 5,000 stores worldwide in 2021, and to open 100.
Despite the drop in overall turnover, the company saw its online sales jump in 2020 (+ 40% over one year). They represented nearly a third of the group’s sales last year.
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