Fair Labor Association assessment on Turkish Hugo Boss factory raises concerns over freedom of association

In January 2016 Fair Labor Association released an assessment regarding a Hugo Boss factory in Turkey.  The report made various recommendations to the company in respect of a number of workplace issues including on health & safety and freedom of association.  The assessment notes that while its recommendations were generally accepted  by the company some recommendations regarding freedom of association were not.

We invited Hugo Boss to respond to the report in February 2016, which it did (see below).  In March we received a rejoinder from the Turkish union Teksif.  This alleges anti-union activities are continuing.  We again invited Hugo Boss to respond which it did.

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Item
16 March 2016

Hugo Boss rejoinder to union

Author: Hugo Boss

The FLA assessment had been conducted at the request of Hugo Boss and we have been working intensively with the FLA to remedy the findings.  That process is almost complete and has been updated on the FLA website....Hugo Boss maintains strict neutrality with regard to workers freedom to associate and we will not try to influence workers in anyway....[T]here are several unions operating in the Turkish textile industry.  For this reason Hugo Boss prefers not to  favour any one union in Izmir....The cases referred to in the report were mostly old cases but needless to say Hugo Boss is looking into all the findings and making improvements to systems to prevent any such incidents in future...

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NGO rejoinder
15 March 2016

Statement in response to Hugo Boss from Faruk Aksoy, President of the Izmir branch of Turkish union, Teksif

Author: Teksif

Despite what Hugo Boss says, we haven’t seen any progress since the Fair Labor Organization (FLA) released its report in January.  Bullying and harassment of union activists at the Hugo Boss factory in Izmir is as bad as it’s ever been.  Far from being neutral in its attitude towards unions, Hugo Boss is trying to decapitate my union Teksif, which is the only union trying to organize workers at the factory...Since the investigation was carried out, two workers at Hugo Boss have been fired for union activities and the FLA is carrying out a further inquiry into their dismissals....

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Report
29 February 2016

Fair Labor Association: Independent External Assessment Report

Author: Fair Labor Association

This report was submitted with a corresponding corrective action plan to the FLA and was reviewed by FLA staff. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of remediation, the FLA has provided feedback and recommendations to the company. While the company has agreed to and incorporated most of these recommendations, this was not the case for some of the findings of noncompliance concerning Industrial Relations and Freedom of Association.

Read the full post here

Company response
29 February 2016

HUGO BOSS response

Author: HUGO BOSS

HUGO BOSS operates one of the textile industry's most modern production facilities in Izmir, Turkey. The plant offers excellent working conditions, with well over ninety percent of our employees there confirming in an anonymous survey that they are very satisfied with their jobs.

Within the framework of our partnership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a social audit was conducted at our production plant in Izmir. Needless to say, HUGO BOSS has taken the comments and other recommendations issuing from the audit very seriously. The majority of these issues raised during the FLA SCI audit have been addressed and are almost completely solved. In terms of the concerns of mistreating freedom of association HUGO BOSS is actually engaged with a third party mediator in order to solve this issue. Nevertheless it has to be mentioned that HUGO BOSS supports and set the floor for freedom of association within its entire global supply chain but we remain neutral when it comes to specific unions.