A three-year campaign for the right of Ismaco garment workers to organize freely ended successfully on November 27, when IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Deriteks signed a collective bargaining agreement with Ismaco management.
At the end of 2012, garment union Deretiks started organizing workers at the Ismaco plant, a supplier to top Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna. Despite a range of constructive efforts by the union, the response from management was to fire nine union members for organizing activities.
In protest, the dismissed workers picketed in front of the Tuzla Free Zone in Istanbul for 245 days. The union also organized protests in front of Zegna’s stores in Istanbul.
On a visit to Turkey in 2013, Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, called on Ermenegildo Zegna to respect workers’ rights, to reinstate the dismissed workers and to recognize the union in the workplace.
Supporting its affiliate, IndustriALL conducted several actions together with Deriteks, Ermenegildo Zegna and Ismaco to try and find a solution. In late 2014, IndustriALL and its Italian and Turkish garment affiliates agreed on a document of common understanding, recognizing freedom of association for all employees at the plant.
In early 2015, IndustriALL and Ermenegildo Zegna organized a town hall meeting with all the workers at the plant to announce the joint agreement. This was the starting point of Deriteks being able to organize workers at the plant.
On 1 June 2015 Deriteks received a union authorization from the Ministry of Labour meaning collective bargaining negotiations could begin. IndustriALL has continued to assist Deriteks in the negotiations to reach the agreement.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says:
This is a great and important victory for Deriteks and all unions in Turkey, showing the force of labour when we act together.
We congratulate Deriteks and convey our appreciation to our Italian affiliates for their support, and to Ermenegildo Zegna management for their cooperation.