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21 Jun 2024

Worker Rights Consortium

Türkiye: Levi's accused of 'head-spinning' on commitments to workers facing severe repression on freedom of association incl. mass firing, arrests & violence

Maxence (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

"“If You Don’t Leave the Union, I’m Going to Break Your Head” Mass Firings, Arrests, and Violence against Workers Making Levi’s Jeans in Türkiye", 21 June 2024

The WRC investigated reports of severe repression of workers’ freedom of association—including mass firings and arrests, threatened and actual violence, wage theft, and blacklisting against 400 workers at Levi’s supplier factory in Türkiye. The WRC found that Özak Global (in some instances in collaboration with both the local militarized forces and a company-favored union), committed, or was complicit in, egregious violations of labor rights at this facility. This included violence, arrests, the retaliatory mass firing of roughly 400 workers, and the blacklisting of those workers—all in response to the decision of the majority of the facility’s workforce to join an independent union at the factory named BİRTEK-SEN.

Levi’s acknowledged that the mass firing was a violation (in Levi’s words a “zero tolerance violation”) of Levi’s standards for suppliers and stated it would only continue to place orders with Özak/Kübrateks if the illegally fired workers were reinstated. Levi’s then performed a head-spinning about face, dropping its demand for reinstatement, abandoning the fired workers, ignoring its own labor standards, and rewarding the factory with more business. As a result, there has been no remediation of the violations documented by the WRC.