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Brax “Feels Good” over labour rights violations at Lafem in Turkey

15 April, 2014IndustriALL Global Union and IG Metall call on German textile brand Brax to play instrumental role to stem labour rights violations in its major supplier Lafem in Turkey.

The Turkish union Tekstil, belonging to DISK national center and IndustriALL, conducted an organizing campaign at Lafem in September 2013. A majority of the workers joined the union in the following month seeking to achieve better working conditions.

However Lafem management dismissed 40 union members with seniority of 10 to 17 years instead of respecting fundamental labour rights. Two of the dismissed workers were already elected as workers’ representatives in the factory, and had never received any complaint or negative notification beforehand.

All the dismissed workers filed a court case against Lafem for reinstatement, as their dismissals were unjustified. Lafem management in the meantime continued to exert pressure over the workers to withdraw from their court cases with the condition of paying their severance payments, but most of them did not accept.

Brax is the major customer of Lafem, and almost its entire production is done for the German brand. Even Brax employs a full time staff at the Lafem plant to check the production on a daily basis.

The union of Tekstil attempted to pursue a peaceful route to solving the problems at Lafem, however Lafem management repeatedly refused. Then Tekstil communicated with Brax to intervene in the situation as a part of the brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy and practices. Initially Brax accepted to investigate, but not in a concrete and sincere way.

However Brax preferred to listen only to its supplier, and stalled the process by only sending letters to the Union. Finally Brax declared that they could not find any violation of labour rights in the workplace after their audits. IndustriALL’s German affiliate IG Metall extended solidarity to the dismissed workers and raised the problem to Brax, but the company’s response was always negative.

The dismissed union members continue to be suffering from the situation while working union members inside the plant are under heavy pressure from the management to get rid of the union presence. Lafem rejects calls for dialogue while Brax is silent to the requests for further investigation.

The motto of Brax is “Feel Good”. The German brand publishes pages of documents to prove that they are socially responsible and that they respect the environment. They claim to support many projects for the sake of protecting nature, however what Brax does in reality is completely contrary without respecting basic labour rights.

“IndustriALL Global Union, IG Metall and Tekstil have done everything to restore the situation at Lafem through dialogue” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary. “Enough is enough. If Lafem and Brax insist on not reinstating the dismissed workers and entering into constructive talks with Tekstil, our campaign will grow.”