Not just fast fashion: the conviction of Elisabetta Franchi is just the tip of the iceberg of the rights denied for women in Italy

Motherhood is described as a magical moment in the life of a woman and a couple, but the reality unfortunately says something else, especially in Italy where the birth rate and the opportunities for those who decide to have children are constantly decreasing. And this does not only concern the fashion sector which, however, has not been able to reconcile productivity and the rights of textile workers for too long. The Franchi case is only the tip of the iceberg of a series of interrelated problems …

The last few weeks for Elisabetta Franchi have been full of controversies and courts. A story that is the tip of the iceberg of interconnected worlds: that of fashion that cannot stop and must produce 24 hours a day, like any fast-fashion company located in areas that are remote for us; but also that of women who hate women by introjecting centenary male archetypes; the rights denied to women such as the right to reconcile work and motherhood.

Elisabetta Franchi loses in court

It’s called Betty Blue, Elisabetta Franchi’s company that was convicted of anti-union behavior by the Bologna labor court. The controversy emerged at the end of 2021 while the company was experiencing a golden moment: the resumption of post-pandemic activities with revenues exceeding 120 million euros, the decision to go public, the Ernest & Young award to Franchi as best entrepreneur national.

But what had happened? The company had forced the workers at the Granarolo factory to extend their working hours to meet the peak of orders. Some employees had decided to strike against Saturday overtime.

Filcams-CGIL had sided with these women who were hit by a disciplinary measure for opposing requests for extra work.

The company had stated that it did not understand this behavior which was defined as unjustified and specious fury towards the brand: first the contestation of the redundancy fund then on the possibility of receiving a higher salary. Filcams-CGIL had filed an appeal for anti-union behavior, recognized as such by the Labor Judge of Bologna Chiara Zompi.

Fashion and rights

It is certainly the fast-fashion sector, with the speed that distinguishes it, the one most observed due to the intricate network of contracts and subcontracts in countries such as India and China, where most of the garments are produced, and companies made up of factories. dilapidated, without windows or respected hygiene rules, where above all women are herded into the various production lines, harassed by the employers-torturers between grueling working hours and sexual harassment.

The lack of a transnational sector law allows it to continue in this way. Things that we had also seen in Prato years ago and that had indignant us and where, even today, things are not going very well: strikes are underway in 5 companies – for now – for the end of the 12/7 working regime , the denial of all rights and unjustified dismissals via WhatsApp.

From the inquiries and complaints, an unedifying picture of the fashion sector continues to emerge, which has obvious difficulties in reconciling productivity and workers’ rights, involving the most exclusive brands.

Give vs Give

For the second time in a few weeks, Franchi found herself at the center of controversy regarding the topic of work and women. Contested, this time, by the same women who allowed her to carry on her dream and become the acclaimed entrepreneur on social media, in company panels, in TV programs with documentaries that tell the not so easy life of the woman behind a male. whose motto is “If you want you can”. Criticized by a wider audience after admitting that women with managerial positions in her asylum are few and all over 40 because they have already done everything, understood as the marriage-children-divorce triptych and

they are there like me 24 hours a day

therefore always available to respond and execute, with their needs overshadowed.

The numbers of the gender gap

“80% of my company are female shares, of which 75% are young women employed, 5% are female executives and managers. The remaining 20% ​​are men, of which 5% are managers ”declared the stylist on Instagram stories complete with a press release to try to curb the wave of comments and reactions to the video that went viral in a few minutes. But these numbers and the phrases pronounced by Franchi herself tell us perhaps that this company does not allow mothers to make a career?

In a country where one becomes mothers with difficulty, at an increasingly advanced age and where the birth rate continues to decrease, these statements are certainly not an encouragement.

Istat had offered the picture of the birth rate in Italy: with 399,431 births in 2021 there was a decrease of 1.3% on 2020 and 31% compared to 2008. The report released by Save The Cildren “Le Equilibriste.

Maternity in Italy in 2022 “photographs a chilling situation because the weight of a family is still on the shoulders of women: 42.6% of mothers between 25 and 54 are not employed while the male rate marks a plus 30%. Employment turns into a part-time contract for 39.2% of women with 2 or more minor children. In the first half of 2021, just over 1 in 10 permanent contracts is in favor of women.

In 2020, more than 30 thousand women with children resigned for family reasons or due to lack of services in the area or because they were too expensive, including nursery schools. This is how the income gap between women and men continues to exist, in favor of the latter, and it makes us too familiar with terms such as “motherhood penalty” or “child penalty gap” because motherhood, although hailed in the popular tale, is in actually a work penalty.

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SOURCE: State/Save the Children/Elisabetta Franchi

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