Hennes and Mauritz “bullied union activists”

Swedish clothing retailer Hennes and Mauritz bullied union activists, threatened staff who criticised the company and spied on people on sick leave, claims a German trade union.

Verdi, which, with 2.4 million members is one of the world’s largest trade unions, is accusing Hennes and Mauritz of systematically undermining union rights. The clothing giant’s corporate values are completely different in Germany compared to Sweden, they say.

“The only thing they’ve taken from Sweden is that people say ‘du’ to each other and pretend to be one big happy family,” said union representative Malene Volkers to Svenska Dagbladet.

Hennes and Mauritz says it takes the criticism seriously. The company’s head of information, Kristina Stenvinkel, told SvD that what has happened in Germany is not acceptable and that they responded when the problem first came to light in 2004.

However, Malene Volkers claims that the situation has worsened since last year when H & M changed their German boss.

Germany is H & M’s biggest market and accounts for 29% of the company’s total sales.