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2 Apr 2024

Türkiye: Over 500 textile workers strike following intimidation & threats from management for withdrawing union membership from alleged 'yellow union', ; incl. co. responses

In December 2023, it was reported that over 500 textile workers at Özak Tekstil, based in Turkey and an alleged supplier for Levi's, Zara, and HUGO BOSS, went on strike, after management reportedly intimidated and threatened workers who had started transferring union membership from the alleged 'factory-led', 'yellow' union Öz İplik-İş union, to BIRTEK-SEN union. Workers also reported facing poor working conditions at the factory, including: excessive production pressure, mandatory overtime that impacts workers’ health, and unjustified and uncompensated dismissals.

Following the protest, it was reported that 400 workers had been dismissed, with demonstrations outlawed and picketers met with police brutality and arrests.

BIRTEK-SEN called on the factory to engage in open dialogue and meet their demands:
1- Reinstatement of the workers who were dismissed for being members of our union,
2- Payment of wages for the days of the protest, during which the workers were disadvantaged in every respect,
3- Respect for the workers’ right to choose a union, unionize, and be represented,
4 – Signing a mutual protocol with our union on behalf of the workers to guarantee the above demands.

According to BIRTEK-SEN, Levi's is, while taking steps to address the situation, including investigations, and requesting the company reinstate dismissed workers and engaging with the union, planning to terminate its supply relationship with Özak.

In February 2024, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Levi, Zara and HUGO BOSS to respond. The comments can be found below.

Company Responses

Levi Strauss View Response
Hugo Boss View Response