Italian unions are in dispute with Swedish retail giant Ikea over a single mother sacked because she struggled with early morning shifts.
Marica Ricutti said she could not start work at 7am because she had to take her two young children – one of them disabled – to school.
The Italian retail workers’ union Filcams Cgil has protested outside the Ikea store in Corsico, Milan.
Ikea says Ms Ricutti decided her own working hours without warning managers.
Ms Ricutti, 39, has worked at the Corsico branch of Ikea for 17 years, holding some senior roles.
She told the Italian daily La Repubblica (in Italian) that she had received verbal assurances from managers about her hours,
“They told me they had taken account of the situation; I would never have expected to be treated like this,” she complained.
The company said she had agreed shift changes with colleagues for around half her working days, but had not got permission for other shift changes.
An Ikea statement (in Italian) said that “in the past eight months, Ms Ricutti has worked less than seven days per month”.
It said she had decided her own timetable without giving prior notice to her bosses. It accused her of “unacceptable behaviour which undermined the relationship of confidence” in the workplace.
The Filcams Cgil union staged two short walkouts at the store on Tuesday. It plans to hold a rally on 5 December to get Ms Ricutti reinstated.
The union’s secretary general Susanna Camusso expressed solidarity with Ms Ricutti on Twitter.
Her tweet said: “She’s requesting a simple thing: to be able to work and reconcile that with her life and her children. She’s been doing it for 17 years! It can be done!”
Another trade union leader said that what had happened to Ms Ricutti would “mortify all working mothers”.
Marco Beretta, a Cgil representative, told La Repubblica that modern innovations – including algorithms – had made it harder to accommodate workers’ individual circumstances.
Ikea has been heavily criticised on social media for its dismissal of Ms Ricutti.
Ikea says it has 355 stores in 29 countries and 58% of its staff in Italy are women.