The Levi spokesperson told Just Style over the course of the labour unrest it had been in frequent contact with Ozak factory management to firmly express its support for the lawful expression of workers’ voices and workers’ right to freedom of association, following the Clean Clothes Campaign’s accusation that Levi broke a “promise to workers” in the union.

The Clean Clothes Campaign alleged that Levi continued to produce clothes at the Özak/Kübrateks factory in Şanlıurfa, Türkiye four months after a conflict between workers and factory management began at the site.

The Clean Clothes Campaign claimed that on 23 November 2023 workers at the site walked out after an “outspoken union activist” from the Birtek-Sen union was dismissed.

The organisation alleged Türkiye’s Gendarmerie General Command has since attacked strikers from the factory and detained union leaders “en masse”.

In December 2023, all 400 striking workers were alleged to be dismissed from the factory.

Levi, which Clean Clothes Campaign described as the “sole buyer” of the factory, had informed the Birtek-Sen union that it would use its leverage to ensure workers were reinstated and would withdraw from the site if management failed to meet demands.

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However, the Clean Clothes Campaign said the US denim brand “failed to follow through on its threat”.

It added that Özak/Kübrateks, which had only a small number of workers remaining, is now hiring staff who are not members of the union in order to complete Levi’s orders.

The campaign group claimed the US brand had also stopped communicating with union leaders and the labour rights advocates supporting them.

The Levi spokesperson told Just Style it is “committed to making sure factory management observes and upholds worker rights per local labour laws and our Supplier Code of Conduct”.

The Clean Clothes Campaign argued: “It is abundantly clear that Levi is failing to prevent, mitigate, and remediate a very serious instance of union busting at its immediate supplier. Instead, four months into the conflict, it bolsters the factory owner’s defiant position by breaking its promises to the Birtek-Sen union and continuing to produce at a factory that has actively intimidated, harassed, and dismissed workers for exercising their rights.”

However, the Levi spokesperson pointed out that “after several months of engaging to find solutions” and “wanting to ensure there is no further job loss,” it has decided to continue working with Ozak on a “conditional basis contingent on management’s fulfilment of a detailed remediation plan that addresses freedom of association, working hours, and health and safety”.

The Özak/Kübrateks factory in Şanlıurfa, Türkiye had not responded to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of publication.

In January Levi announced plans to reduce its global workforce by 10-15% after a challenging FY23.

In December 2023, Levi was one of a number of fashion brands to send a joint letter to Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina asking for the minimum wage review mechanism to incorporate all stakeholders’ views and reflect the country’s economic realities.