We expose Levi’s for ignoring the months-long resistance of Özak workers and their demands

by admin



Levi’s is, by its own definition, one of the world’s largest clothing companies and a global leader in the jeans industry. With 500 stores worldwide, it sells in more than 100 countries. Levi’s, which markets the image that it respects workers’ rights, nature and that its products do not involve exploitation wherever it manufactures in the world, has in reality turned its back on Özak Tekstil workers who have been resisting for months for their union rights and for humane and dignified living conditions, and has acted together with the Özak boss despite all the pressure, threats and insults against the workers.

Özak Tekstil workers faced problems that have been going on for years in the factory where Öz İplik-İş union is organized, such as heavy and excessive working hours, poor food, interference in workers’ breaks, forcing workers to produce many times more than the usual production, threats of sharing the private life of women workers, dismissal of workers without compensation, and Öz iplik-İş representatives’ reporting of workers to the boss. The union, which is supposed to stand by the workers against the problems experienced, collaborated with the boss, threatened the workers with dismissal and practiced mobbing. In this process, workers who wanted to get rid of the pro-boss yellow union organized under the umbrella of Birtek-Sen, which we continue our struggle as an independent union. Despite having 545 worker members in the factory where 750 people work, the pressure, threats and insults of the boss and Öz İplik-İş union increased due to the union change, and workers were forced to resign from Birtek-Sen. As a result, the first dismissal took place on November 27 to intimidate other workers. Nearly 400 workers staged a work stoppage against the dismissal of their colleagues and the prevention of their freedom to choose a union. Around 400 workers were fired by Özak officials simply for exercising their freedom to choose a union. This honorable resistance continued for 80 days despite gendarmerie intervention, governorate bans and detentions.

Attempts have been made to establish channels of dialogue from the beginning of the resistance in order to remedy the violation of workers’ rights. Özak Tekstil is a direct supplier of Levis and the factory in Urfa only produces for Levi’s. For this reason, calls were made to Levi’s, which was taken as a direct respondent to solve the problem, and the violations of rights experienced by the workers were conveyed to the brand with evidence. Reports prepared by both our union and international independent and impartial organizations were submitted to Levi’s.

The brand made a commitment that it would take responsibility for the Özak Tekstil employer to accept our demands for the reinstatement of the workers and the recognition of the workers’ right to choose a union, otherwise they would completely sever their relations with Özak. However, after more than four months, we have learned that Levi’s has publicly declared its decision to continue its relations with Özak.

While it is obvious that the dismissed workers have not been reinstated, the blacklisting of workers continues, many of them are unemployed, and the rest are condemned to precarious working conditions; while the violations of the rights of the workers have not been eliminated, while our member workers in the factory have been forced to resign from the union, we do not accept that the brand, which is so-called sensitive to workers’ rights, ignores this situation.

We remind Levi’s of its international responsibilities and call on Levi’s to take action to remedy the rights violations suffered by Özak workers, to take steps for the reinstatement of workers, the recognition of their right to choose a union, the payment of wages for periods of unemployment, the payment of union compensation to workers who are not hired or who do not want to return to work, and otherwise to cut its relations with Özak Tekstil/Kübrateks as committed.

We will not allow the usurpation of the rights of workers resisting for a dignified life. For this reason, we call on the internationally sensitive public society, friendly organizations and trade unions to support us in this matter, to protest against this anti-worker attitude of Levi’s and to demonstrate in front of their stores.

In solidarity.

United Textile, Weaving and Leather Workers Union

(Birleşik Tekstil Dokuma Ve Deri İşçileri Sendikası)


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