Addressing workers through the fence

Talking to workers from a crane

The view from the crane

A union organnizer on a crane

Turkish sock and underwear factory sacks union members

26.06.2017

Beks Sock and Underwear Factory – which produces for H&M, M&S and Tchibo – has fired union members in response to an organizing drive.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Öz İplik-İş has been trying to unionize workers at the Beks Sock and Underwear Factory in the city of Çerkezköy in Tekirdağ, the province of Thrace in Western Turkey. This concrete union organizing drive is part of IndustriALL’s programme in the textile and garment sectors in Turkey.

The Beks plant, which employs 2,000 workers, is a major supplier of Tchibo, H&M and M&S. These companies prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR), and IndustriALL has global framework agreements with Tchibo and H&M.

Beks started an anti-union campaign to counter the union’s efforts, threatening workers with dismissal if they joined the union. Eight union members were dismissed.

The company told workers that it would close the factory if it unionizes, and it is intimidating workers into disclosing the names of union members. Workers have been sent on unpaid leave, and contractors brought in.

The company defamed the union, claiming the union disclosed the names of members to management and paid bribes.

Because of the company’s anti-union campaign, the union was banned from talking to workers. After the union began addressing workers through the fence of the factory, the company put up a screen.

In response, the union used a crane so they could rise above the screen and address workers through a loudhailer. The company responded by filing a complaint, which resulted in the organizers being detained by police. The court issued a restraining order, banning some union officials from approaching the premises.

These are all clear violations of the right to freedom of association, as well as of the corporate policies of the companies Beks produces for.

IndustriALL and Öz İplik-İş informed Tchibo, H&M and M&S, and demanded they take the necessary corrective measures. The brands wrote a joint letter to employer, but the violations continued. The brand coalition met with Beks, and asked the employer to distribute a statement confirming that they respect union rights. However, Beks is still blocking the union.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Why is Beks so afraid of the union, and of its own workforce? It is the right of every worker to join a union.

 “We have agreements with the brands supplied by Beks to respect trade union rights. We are already working with them and it is now very clear that Beks is violating our agreement, and that we expect urgent action to put an end to what is happening.

“We will stand with our affiliate until they win the right to join a union.”

Take Action

Take a picture of yourself holding a solidarity banner and share it on Facebook or Twitter, using some of these hashtags: #beksişçisiyalnizdegil #öziplikiş #beks #sendika #işçihakkı #çalışmahayatı #işçi