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Turkey: textile workers picket for more than 60 days

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23 September, 2022Workers at the ETF Tekstil factory in Istanbul, Turkey, are approaching 70 days protesting outside the factory after management closed operations at the end of July. Citing a financial crisis, the employer refuses to pay the more than 300 workers according to the collective agreement.

Workers at the factory are covered by a collective agreement, which entitles them to bonuses, severance and notice payment and annual leave. The employer has offered to pay 70 per cent of the severance pay, which was rejected by the union. Since then, there has been no further engagement from the employer.

By refusing to pay the workers what they are owed, ETF Tekstil is violating the collective agreement.

Gulsen Balta worked in the logistics department of the factory for almost five years, supporting a family of four. She says:

“The closure makes me anxious, how will I support my family and find another job? Being on the picket line is tough, we have been attacked by the police many times, but we are firm and confident in our ambitions and we will continue to fight for what is ours. We have worked hard at this factory, we have produced and we have performed our duties. We as workers have grown this company and we deserve what is rightfully ours.”

In a letter to company management in August, IndustriALL demanded that the employer engages with Deriteks and negotiates the terms and conditions of the closure in compliance with Turkish labour laws, international core labour standards, and the companies’ commitments to their customers. ETF Tekstil produces t-shirts for brands like Columbia and Sketchers
   
During a visit to the picket line in September, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

"IndustriALL is supporting your struggle – long live international solidarity. The employer must act now and compensate the workers in full, according to Turkish labour law. If not, IndustriALL is ready to launch an international campaign, which will include major customers.”