Striking Levi’s Workers Call for International Solidarity Actions On Saturday

Since our last report on the matter, 450 worker, of the newly formed combative Birtek-Sen union,  at the Özak Tekstil factory which produces Levi’s jeans, have continued their strike despite layoffs by the company and government repression. The union is now calling for international solidarity this Friday on social media and for workers to gather to demonstrate in front of Levi’s stores world wide on Saturday, December 23rd.

According to an email we received from Mehmet Türkmen, President of the Birteksen union,

Our peaceful protests and demands for basic labor rights have been met with excessive force by local authorities, including the use of tear gas and physical violence. Legal actions initiated against us by Özak Textile have further impeded our fight for justice.

“Levi’s: An Iconic Brand’s Iconic Failure” – this phrase encapsulates the dire situation at Özak Textile, a stark portrayal of Levi’s failure to honor its ethical commitments. Despite its reputation for social responsibility, Levi’s has overlooked the plight of these integral workers in its supply chain, allowing coercion, discrimination, excessive working hours, unsafe conditions, and suppression of union rights.

We demand from Levi’s and Özak:

  • Immediate reinstatement of all dismissed workers who wish to return.
  • Fair compensation for the periods workers were unable to work.
  • Establishment of a non-retaliation protocol to ensure returning workers face no discrimination or mobbing.
  • Improvement of working conditions through a protocol includes grievance mechanisms for reporting and resolving workplace issues.

Should our demands continue to be ignored, we are compelled to escalate our efforts. Thus, we call for global action against Levi’s. Join us on social media this Friday evening (21.00 pm at Turkey) to express our collective discontent, and on Saturday, gather in peaceful protest in front of Levi’s stores worldwide.

This campaign is a stand for human rights and labor dignity everywhere. Your support is critical in our struggle for justice.

The Class Struggle Action Network calls on all workers to join in solidarity action with our fellow workers in Birtek-Sen this Saturday by finding a Levi’s store in your area and distributing the following leaflet.

Leaflet Text:

Levi factory workers in Turkey face sweatshop working conditions. They experience daily coercion, discrimination, excessive working hours, unsafe conditions, and suppression of their union rights – all elements at odds with the core labor standards that Levi’s claims to endorse. We call on Levi’s employees, and all other workers, in the U.S. to respect the strike of their fellow workers in Turkey and to take action in solidarity with their demands.

On November 19th, 450 workers out of 700 workers at the Özak Tekstil factory in Turkey which primarily produces Levi’s jeans had enough. They announced that they would be leaving their old collaborationist union, which worked hand in hand with the boss to squash workers efforts to improve their conditions, and formed a new union called Birtek-Sen (United Textile Workers Union) which could actually defend them against the companies attacks. In response Levi’s began laying off workers and bullying them to return to their old union. On November 29th, 450 workers went on strike. In response the government in collaboration with the company banned demonstrations, attacked workers outside the factory and arrested leaders of the new union.

The army was deployed to prevent workers from approaching the factory entrance thus allowing scabs to enter. On Dec. 6th, the army attacked workers with batons and tear gas, arresting 19 workers and three union leaders, including again the head of Birtek-Sen. Resulting in the workers who were continuing to work inside the factory coming out and joining the strike!

This textile factory has among its main clients; Levi Strauss & Co, a United States based company. This is why as workers in the U.S. and as CSAN (Class Struggle Action Network) we want to express our solidarity with our class brothers and sisters at Özak Tekstil, claiming their freedom to organize into a genuine fighting union like Birtek-Sen, and to denounce the anti-worker front composed of the bosses, the government and state, and regime unions!

We denounce Levi Strauss & Co. owners and bosses as complicit in the exploitation and oppression of our fellow workers in Turkey.

Long live the struggle of the workers of Özak Tekstil!
Long live class unionism, against collaborationist and regime unionism!
For the extension of the strike above factory and category boundaries!
For international workers’ solidarity and unity!

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