Sunday, November 16, 2008

Here's an appeal from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start concerning leather workers in Turkey who produce the leather for many high end products. Seems their employers begrudge them even a little prosperity.

Turkey: DESA leather workers fight for the right to have a union:
In April 2008, hundreds of workers at Turkish leather manufacturer, DESA, which produces for Prada, Mulberry, Louis Vuitton, Samsonite, Aspinal of London, Nicole Farhi and Luella, decided to join Deri Is, the Turkish leather workers union. Since then 44 workers have been dismissed and a further 50 have been forced to resign from the union.
Workers have been fighting this denial of their right to organise through daily demonstrations outside the DESA factory in the Dzce Industrial Zone, facing constant repression and arrest from the local gendarmes. Emine Arslan, a union leader from another DESA factory in Istanbul(Sefaky), was offered a bribe to drop her case against DESA and to end the demonstrations outside the factory. When she refused, her family was threatened. Hours later her 11 year old daughter narrowly escaped an attempted kidnap by men on a motorbike.
Conditions at the three Turkish factories are appalling: Workers earn poverty wages, work long hours, and suffer from a variety of health complaints linked to poor health and safety conditions. They complain that there are not enough toilets for all the workers and those that exist are filthy. The only drinking water is from a hose on the toilet floor.
Despite the huge price tags on the products made by DESA workers, Prada, Mulberry and the others have refused to take action to support the right of DESA workers to organise and improve conditions. Contact them today to tell them: a union is a right, not a luxury.
Please go to THIS LINK to send the following letter to DESA's high end customers.
I am writing to express my concern at the ongoing harassment of workers at the DESA factories in Turkey, who I understand are making your products. Since April 2008, when workers decided to join the Deri Is union 44 workers have been dismissed and a further 55 have been forced to resign. One union leader has been threatened by the company and her eleven year old daughter narrowly escaped a kidnap attempt.

Union organising is right not a luxury. It is your responsibility to ensure workers making your products are able to exercise their right to freedom of association. Please take action today to ensure DESA immediately reinstates the dismissed workers with back pay to date of dismissal, halts the ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment, implements proper industrial relations, including recognised grievance and disciplinary procedures and starts to negotiate with Deri Is as a social partner.

I look forward to hearing what steps you have taken to ensure a positive outcome in this case,

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