A dispute at a sock and underwear factory in Turkey over the firing of union members in response to an organising drive has been resolved thanks to intervention from leading European clothing brands.

Beks Sock and Underwear Factory, which employs 2,000 workers in the city of Çerkezköy in Tekirdag, the province of Thrace in Western Turkey, produces for Tchibo, H&M and M&S. Its customers have been urging the supplier to respect trade union rights and not block the union.

Turkish sock and underwear factory in union row

According to IndustriAll Global Union affiliate Öz Iplik-Is, which has been trying to unionise the factory's workers as part of a wider programme in the textile and garment sectors in Turkey, Beks started an anti-union campaign to counter its efforts, threatening workers with dismissal if they joined the union. Eight union members were dismissed.

The manufacturer is also said to have told workers it would close the factory if it unionises, and was intimidating workers into disclosing the names of union members. Workers had been sent on unpaid leave, and contractors brought in.

IndustriALL Global Union now says intervening with well-known brands has successfully ended the conflict, with the employer now recognising the union.

Earlier this week, Beks management met with IndustriAll and Öz Iplik-Is in Istanbul and a protocol towards resolving the ongoing issues was signed.

"This case once again demonstrated that global framework agreements with multinational brands are incredibly important and useful for our day-to-day actions," says Murat Inanç, general president and Raif Ay, general secretary of Öz Iplik-Is.

The signed protocol also provides the opportunity for the dismissed workers to return to their jobs. The union and management agreed to clear up all the ongoing court cases, and to instead undertake regular dialogue sessions.