6 July, 2020Four women workers have been dismissed from SF Trade in Izmir, Turkey, for organizing a union at the leather and textile company.
Last year, workers at SF Trade, which supplies global brands with textile and leather goods, started a campaign to organize a union. They wanted overtime pay, to work without excessive production pressure and to be respected. They chose IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Deriteks to represent them and began recruiting members.
The company’s management was quick to start anti-union tactics. Ayşe and Pınar - two women who led the organizing campaign - were dismissed on 25 October 2019, allegedly for poor performance. They were taken to separate rooms without their mobile phones, and told to sign resignation letters, or lose their severance payments. They began a picket in front of the factory at the Aegean Free Trade Zone near Izmir.
The management continues to threaten workers with dismissal if they join the union. In December 2019, Nurcan was forced to resign from the union, and Sevcan in January 2020. Both were dismissed.
The company continues to breach international core labour standards as well as Turkish constitutional rights. The company again sued for damages, accusing workers of undermining competitiveness due to their social media posts.
SF Trade has a history of union busting. In 2015, union workers fought and won justice at the company after a long struggle. The company is attacking the union again – and meeting the same resistance.
In 2015 the company, at the time called SF Leather, dismissed 14 workers for joining Deriteks. SF Leather tried to end the organizing campaign by forcing union members to resign from Deriteks. The company sued the workers and the union, accusing them of damaging the company’s commercial interests.
After a global campaign and 198 days of struggle, Deriteks and SF Leather reached an agreement. SF Leather paid compensation to the workers, and withdrew lawsuits against Deriteks.
Deriteks union president, Musa Servi, said:
“It is very clear that SF Trade not only violates workers’ rights but also fundamental human rights. We know these anti-union tactics from 2015. We won at SF Trade in 2015. International solidarity will win again. The company must respect workers’ right to organize. We will continue this fight with our members until they are reinstated and the company starts social dialogue with our union.”
The four dismissed women were picketing until the coronavirus pandemic hit daily life. The fight continues in court. They made a call on the 100th day of picketing in February that “Women should not abandon us in our struggle.”
IndustriALL textile and garment director Christina Hajagos-Clausen adds:
“We want to remind SF Trade that it is the company’s full responsibility to ensure workers’ rights are respected and due diligence is conducted. We call on SF Trade to reinstate dismissed workers unconditionally and to build sustainable industrial relations with Deriteks.
“Women workers’ solidarity crosses borders. They have determination, they have the power to win. Women at SF Trade are not alone in their struggle.”