Strikers force Russian e-commerce giant Wildberries to rethink new rules

Russian e-commerce platform Wildberries on Thursday announced a three-day suspension of controversial new rules that make employees financially responsible for goods returned by customers after its staff spear A nationwide strike, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

New rules introduced by Wildberries this month made employees responsible for the costs of any defective items that were returned as well as those that were shipped to the wrong buyer. The company justified this decision by saying that in 98% of these cases, staff errors were to blame.

Wildberries workers launched a nationwide industrial action on Wednesday to protest the new rules – a move that prompted the company to close several pick-up points, affirming their owners had chosen an “uncivilized form of dialogue”.

A mediation attempt convened by State Duma deputy Dmitry Gusev brought together representatives of the company’s staff, but not the management of Wildberries.

“Through the dialogue and feedback mechanism with [owners of] pick-up points and contractors, over 10,000 incorrect fines…have been waived,” said a rep for Wildberries.

The owners of several pick-up points in different Russian regions reported that Wildberries had refunded the fines they had been forced to pay, although some striking collection point owners said they had been threat and receive visits of the font.

Russia’s largest online marketplace had said The system making pickup station employees and owners liable for the costs of faulty or counterfeit items returned by customers was intended to protect vendors and brands selling goods on its platform.

For one employee, the new system resulted in a deduction of up to 500,000 rubles ($6,581) from his salary, according to Forbes.

This is the third successful strike the unions held since the start of the war with Ukraine. Ikea employees and Delivery Club couriers negotiated more favorable working conditions after staging nationwide strikes in the summer and fall of 2022.

Wildberries is one of Russia’s largest online marketplaces and offers services in 15 countries in Europe and Central Asia. The company has more than 48,000 employees and has profited from so-called “grey imports” that circumvent sanctions imposed on Russia following that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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