Turkey: Leather workers sacked for 'occupying' factorySavranoglu Leather and Kampana Leather are two factories owned by same employer. Savranoglu is situated in Izmir and Kampana is situated in Istanbul. For over 6 months Deri-Is has been waging an intense struggle against the anti-union attitudes of the employer.
The union organized the Kampana plant - and the employer fired 16 workers in May 2011. Workers initiated a picket line and it has been continuing for over 220 days.
The employer shifted production to Izmir but the union organized workers in 3 different companies operating in the same factory. The employer dismissed 3 workers and they initiated a picket line-resistance there.
The employer decided to shut down the Izmir plant and called on the workers to come to Istanbul. They thought the workers would not leave their families. But in order to save their organizational power, 38 workers accepted exile and came to Istanbul on October 3.
The employer didn't let them to use a day off to find a place to reside. So the workers didn't leave the factory for one night. The employer claimed that this was an occupation and tried to provoke police forces to intervene. But the police didn't intervene because there would be a general strike in the Zone in case of intervention.
The employer dismissed 36 workers on October 13 without severance pay by claiming that they occupied the Istanbul plant. Also, he tried to re-open the Izmir plant by changing the name.
The workers in exile went back to Izmir to continue resistance and are not letting the "new company" to produce.
The workers were suffering from diseases caused by chemicals, and there were no safety and heath measures. They work long hours, until 2-3 AM. They earn the minimum wage which is 220 Euros per month. The employer also poisons the environment by pouring chemicals into the soil.
The workers demand that the employer respect their basic rights and accept their union.