A video said to be shot within a Russian e-commerce facility showed the extreme lengths taken in the name of security as employees lined up for daily strip searches.
Comparable to Amazon or eBay, Wildberries is considered Russia’s largest online retailer with services that reach beyond their borders including the United States and countries in Europe. Recently, a journalist working for Life.ru went undercover at their St. Petersburg offices to report on all the “charms” of working there, including the routine “humiliating procedure.”
“Workers, under the supervision of video cameras, undress and go to the inspection point,” the report detailed corresponding with a video that showed a queue line of female employees, several already stripped down to their underwear, presenting themselves to a same-sex security guard to conduct entry and exit searches.
“Our correspondent…felt all the ‘charms’ of working in the ‘Berries’ warehouse,” Life detailed and explained that the same procedure was conducted for the male employees in a segregated space. “According to his investigation, every morning in the warehouse really does begin with a humiliating procedure.”
Wildberries is owned by Tatyana Bakalchuk, a 47-year-old entrepreneur said to be worth more than $13 billion who reportedly has deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including regular consultation on retail policies.
The policy was only one of the degrading efforts instituted by the former teacher who founded the company in 2004. Evidently, while workers have struggled as global economies have sanctioned Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian-language Forbes reported that employees are being hit with the brunt of costs for unsatisfied customers.
Should a customer report a complaint or being shipped the wrong product, wages are garnished for the employee connected to the shipment. At least one person was said to have lost 500,000 rubles, equivalent to roughly $6,581 because of the policy.
In retaliation, employees began to slow their work down as one reported, “We will go to work so as not to violate the terms of labor contracts, but we won’t hand over goods to buyers.”
Along with ensuring that goods don’t get carried out of the facility as Life said, “This is the company’s management trying to fight against theft in warehouses,” the strip searches were also enacted to prevent certain items from being brought in, namely phones and watches.
The only permitted items were said to be cigarettes, medicines and push-button phones. However, clothing may not have pockets to hold items leaving some to stow belongings in their underwear or affix them to their person with tape.
The journalist who had gone in undercover maintained his investigation for only a few days before he had had enough, “He worked there for only three days, but he had enough impressions to last a lifetime.”
Despite “humiliating” conditions, Wildberries indicated a 95 percent rise in turnover from the year prior.