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Turkey: “Don't touch my picket line”, say dismissed Yves Rocher workers

9 August, 2018On 6 August, on the 84th day of a picket outside the gates of the factory of Flormar, the Turkish subsidiary of French-based cosmetic giant Yves Rocher, security forces intervened in an attempt to end the resistance of 132 dismissed workers.

The dismissed workers were picketing in front of Flormar in the industrial zone of the town of Gebze, near Istanbul since their dismissal on May 14. Security forces removed union banners and forced workers to abandon their picket at the factory gates and move to a less conspicuous location.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Petrol-İş immediately intervened with the security services and called civil society and opposition parties to support them in continuing the resistance. Visiting the picket line, the general secretary of the Petrol-İş union, Ahmet Kabaca, said:

"Flormar workers are not criminals. If the security forces are looking for a criminal, it is the employer. None of the workers here did anything illegal. They just defended their rights. I call on the authorities to hear the voice of the workers here and not to disperse them.

“Who is guilty here? The workers who fight for their daily bread or the employer who dismissed them for joining a union? We will continue our resistance, picketing in whatever conditions.

“Workers were fired from this factory and we will keep our resistance at this factory. We refuse to be moved to somewhere that is not connected. This problem cannot be resolved with intimidation. We believe it must be resolved at the negotiating table, and not with police intervention. We will never accept this and we will continue to struggle until victory.

"No pressure will frighten us away,"

On the 87th day of resistance, an IndustriALL delegation joined Petrol-İş leaders on the picket line and found them in very good spirits. Workers chanted “Resistance is beautiful!”, “No justice, no peace!” and “Don’t touch our resistance!” They danced together to popular folk songs as passing drivers hooted their support.

The company had blocked off the factory gates with hired buses, and installed surveillance cameras to spy on the workers. Speaking outside the factory gate, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Resistance is beautiful! You will win because you are all beautiful, and your union Petrol-İş is a strong one that wins its disputes. Your voices are heard not just in Turkey but throughout the whole world. We will continue to support your struggle for justice, and we will win. There will be a union at Flormar.”

Since the Turkish labour ministry granted recognition to Petrol-İş on 24 May, the company has fired 132 union members. Although this is illegal, and the union is fighting the company in the courts, the company hopes to break the momentum of the organizing drive. The union is expected to win court cases for recognition and reinstatement, but the legal process will drag out and the company hopes to use attrition to break workers’ resistance.

Flormar is majority owned by French cosmetics giant Yves Rocher. IndustriALL has contacted the company and also intervened with the French labour ministry in an attempt to resolve the dispute. So far, the company has refused to cooperate, and IndustriALL is running an international campaign.