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COSMETICS workers in Turkey called for a boycott of their company’s products yesterday as they began their 80th day of strike action over the sacking of 132 women for joining a union.
Staff at the Flormar Cosmetics Company gathered outside the Kocaeli factory in Istanbul in protest at its anti-union practices and the mass dismissal of workers for exercising their democratic right to join a trade union.
The mainly female workers have picketed the factory from 9am until 5pm every day since May 15, with bosses erecting barbed wire fencing to prevent them from speaking to other workers.
French cosmetic giant Yves Rocher bought a 51 per cent stake in Flormar in 2012, in a deal worth estimated at $150 million (£116m).
Flormar is the number one make-up brand in Turkey with a 21 per cent market share. Its goods are exported to around 60 countries, with global sales worth around $100m (£77m) per year.
However, workers at the Flormar factory complain of low pay and poor safety conditions, with bosses demanding that they work extra hours for no more than the minimum wage.
The company went to court to challenge a union certificate issued by the Ministry of Labour, exploiting loopholes in the law to block union recognition.
Flormar bosses started targeting workers for their trade union activities in April, when they sacked 14 members of Petrol-Is.
By mid-May, a total of 132 union members had been dismissed. Many have been campaigning under the slogan “Act beautiful, stop union-busting,” subverting the motto of Yves Rocher, which has tried to distance itself from responsibility for the dispute.
One worker employed as a subcontractor, who did not wish to be named, explained: “They asked about my partner’s job and if I had taken part in May Day protests or was a member of a political party.
“They said being in a union was a big problem for them and told us that, if we spoke to those resisting, we would be sacked.”
Pinar Koca, who was sacked the day after she joined the union, said: “We are defending not only our own rights but also the rights of our friends in the factory.”
She called on women to “boycott cosmetic products by Flormar and Yves Rocher and support our action.”
Sacked Flomrar worker Elif Ulsu remains confident of victory, saying: “We will not give up. I believe women are going to win at Flormar.”
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