Mulberry is being called on to intervene in the labour dispute

Mulberry is being called on to intervene in the labour dispute

IndustriAll Global Union is calling on luxury goods brand Mulberry to intervene in what it says is an escalating labour dispute at one of its Turkish suppliers.

Handbag manufacturer, SF Leather, where Mulberry is the major customer, has sacked 14 workers for joining IndustriAll affiliate union Deriteks in March, the union says.

SF Leather is now suing workers and Deriteks, claiming its "commercial interests" have been damaged by the union’s organising tactics and protest rallies calling for the reinstatement of the workers.

According to IndustriAll, the company has appealed and succeeded in getting a local court to impound a banner appealing to Mulberry to respect workers’ rights, and order a news blackout of the union protests on Turkish websites.

When the 14 union members were dismissed earlier this year, Deriteks began to campaign for their re-instatement as well as recognition of the union. IndustriAll Global Union intervened in the case by sending a letter to the company management with the same demands.

However, the union says SF Leather has continued to exert pressure and intimidation over workers not to join the union.

Deriteks appealed to Mulberry to investigate the unfair labour practices and says the luxury goods group claims there is an ongoing investigation and no evidence the dismissals were due to union organising. Most recently Mulberry said they could not comment while there is a legal case ongoing.

According to IndustriALL, the supplier said it would reinstate the dismissed workers on condition they withdraw their trade union membership, and that when Deriteks refused, SF Leather launched a smear campaign against the union with "fabricated allegations".

"SF Leather’s treatment of workers and Deriteks is absolutely shameless," said Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriAll.

"IndustriAll joins Deriteks in calling on SF Leather to end its scandalous labour practices by re-instating the dismissed workers, sitting down with Deriteks and stopping all nonsense court cases and intimidation tactics.

"IndustriAll also repeats its call to Mulberry to take responsibility over this case in Izmir with immediate corrective measures to resolve the problem."

Mulberry could not be reached at the time of going to press.