Mary Tharin, ILRF intern
The International Labor Rights Forum, along with our European allies from the Clean Clothes Campaign, are calling for immediate action to protect workers rights in a Turkish textile factory that produces for IKEA, Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl’s.
Four workers have died from dangerous working conditions in the last four years. Managers at the Menderes Tekstil factory in Southwestern Turkey have been using union-busting tactics to prevent workers from organizing at the factory which produces bed linens.
Health and safety conditions in the Mendes factory have come under intense scrutiny since the tragic death of a worker on November 20, 2008. The worker reportedly fell into the funnel of a coal boiler, an apparatus which lacked any safety measures. In order to retrieve the body, management forced three additional workers to climb into the funnel, again without any safety precautions in place.
Workers at the factory have faced discrimination, intimidation and firings due to their union affiliation. On numerous occasions, the management has forced workers to choose between their jobs and participating in a union. Starting in August 2008, members of the union TEKSIF held a six-month protest outside the gates of the factory. Still, the company has refused to dialogue with the union and continues to intimidate workers. Eight former workers are currently in court, charging that they were wrongfully dismissed for their union activity.
Following complaints about union-busting and poor conditions in the factory, Menderes' primary buyer, IKEA, commissioned a confidential audit into the labor conditions at the factory. The auditors concluded that there were no major labor issues in the factory, but would not let NGOs such as the Clean Clothes Campaign see the report. First-hand accounts report that managers instructed workers to lie to the auditors and say that conditions were fine at the factory. In addition, the auditors refused to meet with union personnel and hear their complaints.
So now its up to you to voice your support for the 3,800 workers at Menderes in Turkey AND hold Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, IKEA, and Target accountable for dragging their feet for months and months. Please send an e-mail urging Menderes' buyers to address these issues, click here.
Also, consider joining ILRF’s email urgent action list so you can be one of the first to know when your support is needed. You can sign up at www.unionvoice.org/laborrights/join.tcl.