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Retailers urge to work together to pull wayward supplier into line
Sep '08
The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation is looking to retailers sourcing from a Turkish textile factory to adopt a common front in addressing the company's denial of the right to organise.

Says ITGLWF General Secretary Neil Kearney: “When our affiliate Teksif began organising workers at Menderes Tekstil, the company immediately adopted an anti-union attitude, preventing union activists from handing out leaflets, insulting union organisers in front of workers and generally trying to intimidate them.

Loud music was played on the PA system to drown out union activists trying to address workers at the factory gates.

“One worker was escorted to the notary public to sign her formal resignation from the union and to sign an undertaking that she would take no action against the company.

The notary public fees, amounting to nearly a month's wages, were paid by the company.

“And no wonder the workers wanted to unionise. When the company was recently faced with having to lay off workers after closing down several departments, it did so without making any effort to mitigate the negative impact on workers.

Workers with years of seniority were laid off while much newer recruits remained employed, and in some cases all the members of a single family were laid off.

“Two operators who objected to being transferred to construction work were dismissed. When they took legal action to demand reinstatement, their wives, sons and in-laws were all targetted for dismissal as well”.

“The ITGLWF demanded an immediate indication that all anti- union discrimination would end and that all those dismissed as a result of their union membership would be reinstated.

In the absence of a response, we are now seeking a coalition of buyers to resolve the blatant violation of the right of freedom of association”.

The retailers sourcing from Menderes Tekstil include Carrefour, Tchibo, Kohl's, Sears, Wal-Mart, Mothercare, Otto, Ikea and Target.

Concludes Mr. Kearney: “Companies like Menderes Tekstil believe they can ignore with impunity the codes of conduct of their customers.

It will now be important to ensure that the company gets a clear message from its customers that this unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and solutions must be found to bring the company into line with international standards on freedom of association”.

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation

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