9 July, 2015IndustriALL Global Union is calling on luxury goods brand, Mulberry, to intervene at an escalating labour dispute at its Turkish supplier, SF Leather. Sign the LabourStart campaign and write to both companies.
Handbag manufacturer, SF Leather, where Mulberry is the major customer, sacked fourteen workers for joining IndustriALL affiliate union Deriteks in March.
SF Leather is now suing workers and Deriteks, claiming that its “commercial interests” have been damaged by the union’s organizing tactics and protest rallies calling for the reinstatement of the workers.
The company has even succeeded in getting a local court to impound a banner appealing to Mulberry to respect workers’ rights, and order a news blackout of the union protests on Turkish websites.
Earlier this year, Deriteks began organizing workers at SF Leather located at the Aegean Free Zone in Izmir, which prides itself on keeping “high standards that customers expect”.
After the fourteen union members were dismissed, Deriteks started to campaign for their re-instatement as well as recognition of the union. IndustriALL Global Union intervened in the case by sending a letter to the company management with the same demands.
However, SF Leather has continued to exert pressure and intimidation over workers not to join the union,
Deriteks has reached out well-known customers of SF Leather, including Mulberry, which has its own ‘Global Sourcing Principles.
Even though Mulberry’s principles include protecting workers’ rights to join a union and enjoy a collective bargaining, SF Leather has clearly violated all the requirements.
Deriteks made an appeal to Mulberry to investigate the unfair labour practices at SF Leather. Mulberry claims that there is an ongoing investigation, and there is no evidence that the dismissals were due to union organizing. Most recently Mulberry said they could not comment while there is a legal case ongoing.
SF Leather later announced that it would reinstate the dismissed workers on condition that they withdraw their trade union membership.
When Deriteks refused this unacceptable condition, SF Leather launched a smear campaign against the union with fabricated allegations.
“SF Leather’s treatment of workers and Deriteks is absolutely shameless,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.
“IndustriALL joins Deriteks in calling on SF Leather to end its scandalous labour practices by re-instating the dismissed workers, sitting down with Deriteks and stopping all nonsense court cases and intimidation tactics.
“IndustriALL also repeats its call to Mulberry to take responsibility over this case in Izmir with immediate corrective measures to resolve the problem.”