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Aggressive anti-union tactics intensify at textile plant in Turkey

21 February, 2023After workers at Barutçu Tekstil joined their local union, they were dismissed. In response, the nine dismissed women started picketing in front of the factory. Over 100 days later, some of the dismissed workers and union officials got ammonia poisoning while demonstrating in front of the plant.

Management at Barutçu Tekstil, in Bursa, continue to intimidate workers if they dare to join a union. Production and human resource managers stated that union representation will never be allowed at the company, and employment contracts of union members will be terminated.

On January 30, the dismissed workers and union officials from, IndustriALL affiliate, Oz Iplik-Is were exposed to ammonia released into the air from tanks that were left open in the area close to the demonstration. Eleven people showed signs of poisoning and were hospitalized. 

Union representatives suspect that the incident was deliberate, an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

An inspection was carried out by some of the buyers sourcing from the plant, and a corrective action plan, including the reinstatement of the dismissed union members, was agreed upon. However, company management still refuse to reinstate the workers and to recognize the union. IndustriALL has reached out to more brands sourcing from the plant urging them to conduct due diligence with their supplier. 

On 3 February, the 110th day of the strike, the women’s committee of the United Metal Workers’ Union (BMIS) visited the workers Barutçu Tekstil to show their solidarity. The women’s committee called on the employer to respect workers’ right to join a union and to immediately reinstate them. 

“Our struggle as women workers is not only against the employer, but also against the patriarchy. You organized to improve your conditions, to raise your voice against very long working hours, discrimination, harassment and bullying. The employer responded by dismissing you. We believe we can change our lives and the world through women’s solidarity. We are with you in this struggle until you win,” 

said Meltem Yıldız, BMIS women’s committee member as she addressed the women at the picket line.

“We don’t want low wages, we don’t want harassment, this is why we have been picketing for over 100 days and we are prepared to fight until we win. We appreciate that you came from Istanbul to show solidarity with us,” 

said Emine Varol, a striking union member. 

In a joint letter sent to the company on 13 February, IndustriALL together with IndustriALL Europe call on company management to reinstate dismissed workers and enter good faith dialogue with Oz Iplik-Is.