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Mulberry: €1,000 handbags made with worker abuse

24 September, 2015IndustriALL Global Union condemns Mulberry inaction at supplier SF Leather in Turkey. A raft of intimidation methods continue to block workers from joining the Deriteks union, and 14 sacked union supporters have not been reinstated.

Mulberry excuses its inaction by saying that audits have been conducted at this supplier. However no audit at SF Leather ever consulted the trade union concerned, Deriteks, an affiliate of IndustriALL. Nor were the findings and process of the audits made public.

Mulberry also says that while a Turkish court case is ongoing into the violations at SF Leather, it should not discuss details of the case. However current international labour standards make clear that companies and unions can jointly work toward resolving a dispute while the matter is being adjudicated.

IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan says:

We told Mulberry in July that if it has genuine commitment to upholding its own Sourcing Principles then IndustriALL Global Union, together with its Turkish affiliate Deriteks, offers a meeting to seek a solution at SF Leather. So far the offer has not been taken.

Workers making expensive Mulberry products have the right to join a union and have a voice at work. Mulberry, meet with us and Deriteks, and start to repair the damage at SF Leather.

This case risks setting a dangerous precedent in Turkey. SF Leather is trying to bypass the labour law, and bust the union with the “Law of Commerce and Code of Obligations”. A legal precedent whereby this commercial law overrides the labour law would effectively remove the already weak legal protections of workers’ rights in Turkey.

It was under this law that the company busted Deriteks and stopped their activities. SF Leather argues that the union caused “unfair competition” by organizing the workers. Under this argument Deriteks has been taken to the Criminal Court to pay compensation for causing “unfair competition”.

Under this law the demonstrations in front of the plant were banned, union banners seized, and a news blackout was ordered.

“Mulberry now risks being the brand responsible for undermining trade union organizing throughout Turkey,” added Özkan.

Sign the IndustriALL-LabourStart campaign here and write to the UK-based brand.