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ISMACO still violating fundamental worker rights in Turkey

9 May, 2013IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Deri-Is has struggled for union recognition at ISMACO producing for luxury Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna since late 2012. But the company’s local management, despite all constructive efforts, persistently continues to violate fundamental worker rights.

In addition to four already dismissed workers, ISMACO dismissed five more members of Deri-Is, namely Turan Baş (5,5 years seniority), İmam Hüseyin Gümüşsoy (2,5 years seniority), Bilal Gümüşsoy (6,5 years seniority), Celal Aydın (13 years seniority) and Mustafa Taş (9 years seniority). The company’s lawyer announced the reason of dismissal as these workers distributed union leaflets without permission of the local management.

The five union members did indeed handbill union brochures inviting workers to join the union. Workers were first urged and asked to give their testimonies because of this big offence! Then they were dismissed. Actually two out five, Turan Baş and Bilal Gümüşsoy, had already been elected as employee representatives and their sacking was a tactic employed by the company to break union organizing at the workplace.

IndustriALL Global Union in the meantime continues to support Deri-Is’ campaign. In early April, on the occasion of the IndustriALL/UNI/ITF Joint Forum on Organizing at the end of March, an international delegation joined the dismissed workers in front of one of the shops of Ermenegildo Zegna in the luxury area of Istanbul, called Nişantaşı, urging the company to stop anti-union practices against union members and unionization. Along with this, IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan visited the picket line and the tent of the dismissed workers at the entrance of the free zone in Tuzla district, and gave the same messages to the company receiving large media attention.

IndustriALL Global Union also communicated with its Italian affiliates in textile, garment and leather sectors to take initiative with the central management of Ermenegildo Zegna with a view to finding a solution for the ongoing situation. The company raised the similar arguments as did its local management in Turkey which was overwhelmingly on the basis of Turkish labour legislation that clearly breaches international conventions of the ILO.

However IndustriALL’s close NGO ally Clean Clothes Campaign, together with the local community, mobilized its chains in different countries in a supportive campaign for the demands of Deri-Is.

“These last five dismissals clearly demonstrate the intention of the company,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “We have made all our attempts to solve this problem with a dialogue, but it does not work. Ermenegildo Zegna leaves us one option, and we will do that”.