Live mannequins in Milan anger union

00:48, Jul 19 2011
Coin department store models
A woman waves to models posing as mannequins in a Coin department store window in downtown Milan.
Coin department store models
A man walks past models posing as mannequins in a Coin department store window in downtown Milan.
Coin department store models
A man takes photos of models posing as mannequins in a Coin department store window in downtown Milan.
Coin department store models
WINDOW SHOPPING: Models pose as mannequins as part of a protest in a Coin department store window in downtown Milan.
Coin department store models
Models posing as mannequins in a Milan department store window hold up a banner that says 'Modelling is also a job'.

Models appearing in shorts and bikinis in the window of a department store in central Milan caused a stir over the weekend, with Italy's trade unions denouncing the merchandisation of the human body.

The male and female models first appeared last week in the windows of the Coin department store to promote the summer sale on bathing costumes, prompting Italy's Filcams CGIL trade union to criticize work deemed degrading.

"Let's be clear, we're not against the sale, or a free-market economy, or against consumers. But we want to defend the decency of workers and the intelligence of customers," the union said in a statement on Friday.

The models briefly disappeared from the windows, but were back on view on Saturday, this time holding signs saying "Modelling is also a job".

"Coin did not withdraw the models from the window, we haven't seen any reason to do so. The promotion will continue on Saturday and Sunday," the department store said in a statement.

On Monday, the models were gone, but Coin's chief executive Stefano Beraldo, speaking at the group's general assembly in Mestre near Venice, congratulated himself on the free publicity the union offered his group and said they had provided an employment opportunity for young people.

"We have given these kids a job and we paid their costs. They prefer to work rather than staying idle on the streets. So what? And what about the pin-ups reading the news? Or Big Brother?."

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Reuters