Victory for Turkish Union League Member at Mulberry Supplier!
In a tremendous victory for Turkish Union League member Deriteks Sendikası, workers at SF Leather factory in Izmir, Turkey held their first hard-fought victory meeting at 10 am this morning with union representatives inside of the factory to discuss the workers' rights to unionize, after management had previously staged a heavy-handed anti-union campaign, telling the workers they would never allow a union into the factory.
After a 9-month organizing campaign by Deriteks Sendikası at the Mulberry supplier factory, workers won a hard-fought victory by directly challenging the buyer brand to take responsibility for the conditions in its supplier! SF Leather factory workers began organizing at the beginning of 2015, but were hit hard when the employer found out about their unionization efforts.
"I, along with 13 colleagues, was dismissed by my employer after I refused to give in to threats to stop organizing a union with my coworkers," said Mehmet Cin, a 5-year veteran of the company, "They tried to say it was because of performance issues, but at the same time they had just given us a performance-related bonus and a few days later told us we could come back to the company if we resigned our union membership. We refused."
The 14 workers instead held a round-the-clock protest for their jobs back and the right to organize a union. Understanding the kind of power brands have in their supplier factories, workers directly appealed to Mulberry, the UK-based luxury purse brand that buys 90% of the production from their factory.
The employer retaliated by bringing trumped-up charges against the union and workers, attempting to punish them for their unionization efforts, but workers refused to give in to the pressure and instead, understanding the power of cross-border worker solidarity, appealed to their international allies to support their campaign. Several organizations and global unions initially sent letters to the factory and the brand including IndustriALL, Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Union League for Brand Responsibility, Labour Behind the Label, and United Students Against Sweatshops. When Mulberry responded unsatisfactorily, claiming, as is a common excuse for brands who want to dodge responsibility to their workers, that it was "investigating" the situation, Deriteks called for international actions in solidarity with the SF Leather workers.
The International Union League responded to the workers' call for an international day of action to call on Mulberry to respect their rights, along with UK-based Labour Behind the Label, Clean Clothes Campaign, Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Globalisation Monitor, and United Students Against Sweatshops. After months of Mulberry claiming it was not its responsibility to ensure fair conditions for its workers, Mulberry finally proved what workers have been saying all along, that when a brand feels pressured to act, it has the power to ensure its suppliers are following its codes of conduct. When unionists and allies around the world publicly called out Mulberry on their inaction, Mulberry finally ensured that SF Leather agreed to the workers demands.
This victory will add to the momentum of the organizing campaign and workers will continue to organize with Deriteks Sendikası to fight for a voice on the job!
Solidarity with the victorious Turkish Mulberry workers! Yaşasın Enternasyonal Dayanışması!