Luxury goods brand Mulberry has been accused of potentially undermining trade union organising throughout Turkey, and is being urged to intervene in an escalating labour dispute at one of its Turkish suppliers.

Handbag manufacturer, SF Leather, where Mulberry is the major customer, sacked 14 workers for joining IndustriAll affiliate Deriteks in March, the union reported in July. SF Leather subsequently began suing workers and Deriteks, claiming its "commercial interests" were damaged by the union’s organising tactics and protest rallies calling for the reinstatement of the workers.

In a further call to the luxury brand, IndustriAll said Mulberry excuses its inaction by saying audits have been conducted at the supplier, adding that Deriteks was not consulted on any such audit, and that findings were not made public.

“We told Mulberry in July that if it has genuine commitment to upholding its own sourcing principles then IndustriAll Global Union, together with its Turkish affiliate Deriteks, offers a meeting to seek a solution at SF Leather,” said Kemal Özkan, IndustriAll assistant general secretary. “So far the offer has not been taken. Workers making expensive Mulberry products have the right to join a union and have a voice at work.”

IndustriAll says the issue risks setting “a dangerous precedent” in Turkey, with SF Leather “trying to bypass the labour law, and bust the union with the Law of Commerce and Code of Obligations”.

“A legal precedent whereby this commercial law overrides the labour law would effectively remove the already weak legal protections of workers’ rights in Turkey,” the union added. “Mulberry now risks being the brand responsible for undermining trade union organising throughout Turkey.”

Mulberry did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.