The Costa Rican police raided Friday at least 18 SYR stores in San Jose after complaints from workers for labor abuse and physical punishment of employees, reported the Ministry of Public Security.
The operations were carried out two days after a video circulated on the Internet in which an employer ordered two female workers to be whipped with pipes.
The employees had been accused of allegedly stealing the money from the cash register at the store where they worked.
One of them reported the facts to the courts, which were recorded on video and later published on social networks.
The images generated public criticism and the authorities launched a simultaneous operation in the capital.
“In these stores what has been done has been to beat the workers with blunt objects, with sticks, and this was ordered by the boss. He put the worker at risk and she was even treated in the hospital,” Marta Elena Rodriguez, 63, assistant general secretary of employees of the Social Security Fund, told AFP in tears.
So far, the Public Security Ministry said in a press release, several stores were reported closed due to immigration irregularities of some employees.
In front of one of them, some 50 people protested against abuses and labor mistreatment in downtown San José.
“We demonstrated in front of the international chain store SYR as a result of the mistreatment by the owners of these stores, owners of Chinese origin (…), where the workers are not guaranteed the minimum wage, the social security of the workers is not paid”, said Guillermo Murillo, 46, a prosecutor of the National Union of Public and Private Sector Workers Union.
Murillo added that, in case of lack of money in the cash box of the premises, the workers “are kneeled down and beaten” with pipes “as punishment”.
So far 38 people have been arrested in the intervention, according to several local media.