Turkey: Workers of a Lidl supplier protest against miserable working conditions and demand implementation of the supply chain act
"Greenhouse workers protest outside embassies of Germany, Russia"
The workers, most of whom are women, were dismissed from a greenhouse company after being unionized. The company makes exports to Germany and Russia.
Protests of the workers of an İzmir greenhouse company who were dismissed after being unionized has been continuing for nearly a month now.
The workers and the Tarım-Sen union members came to İstanbul today to stage protests outside the consulates of Germany and Russia, where the Agrobay company makes exports.
The workers initially gathered in front of the German Consulate building in Gumussuyu.
Umut Kocagöz, the General President of Tarım-Sen, stated, "Most of the tomatoes produced in Agrobay Greenhouse are exported to Germany. We came here to explain to the relevant authorities under what exploitative conditions these tomatoes are produced."
Subsequently, the workers and union members also gathered in front of the Russian Consulate on İstiklal Avenue.
These workers were dismissed, for irrelevant reasons according to them, after becoming union members. Now, they are demanding their unpaid wages and severance pay. Two weeks ago, when these workers protested outside the greenhouse in Bergama, İzmir, the police and gendarmerie responded with tear gas, causing some women workers to faint.
Almanya Başkonsolosluğu önündeyiz.— Tarım-Sen (@tarimsendikasi) September 20, 2023
Sendikamız Başkanı Umut Kocagöz:
"Agrobay Seracılıkta üretilen domatesin çoğu Almanya'ya ihraç ediliyor. Biz de bu domateslerin hangi sömürü koşullarında üretildiğini muhattabına anlatmaya geldik."#KadınDüşmanıAgrobay pic.twitter.com/eZRRQXa5Ld
Both Agrobay and Lidl responded to the allegations in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau [unofficial translation by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre]:
Arzu Sentürk, Agrobay's managing director, denies the allegations. She says the workers were not dismissed because of their union membership, but because they blocked the access roads to the company premises during a demonstration. "Especially in the summer months, the payment of salaries was sometimes delayed by a few days because production was at a standstill, but there was never a situation where the salary was not paid," Sentürk told FR. Her shop employed more than 500 people and was subject to Grasp certification - an audit of standards that are important for both the company's employees and consumers, such as occupational safety, health and social concerns of workers.
"The accusations currently made against Agrobay regarding the restriction of freedom of association as well as the restriction of the right to fair pay and physical and mental health are not compatible with our corporate principles and our Code of Conduct and are not acceptable to us," a spokesperson for the discounter Lidl said at the request of the FR. Lidl had been informed about the current events and had immediately initiated investigations, he said. "Lidl is committed to its corporate duty of care. We are working intensively to minimise negative impacts in our supply chains, to effectively remedy rights violations and to use our influence for positive change," the press spokesperson stressed. However, due to the ongoing proceedings, the discounter could not provide any further information on this at the moment.