€4.7 million in overdue wages

published 03-10-2013 14:16, last modified 10-10-2013 14:10
Garment company Hey Tekstil did not pay its employees from November 2011 to February 2012, then fired them without notice and failed to pay them the severance payments required by law. The workers organised actions and picket lines for months to get what is owed to them by the company. A web appeal and solidarity actions targeting Esprit have been set up to support them.
“I'm just asking for the wages for the three months I was not paid, and legal severance pay. After all, it is rightfully due to me.”

Hey Tekstil worker Irfan Edemci

About 420 workers at Hey Tekstil's factory in Istanbul were asked to take three days off in February 2012. The management promised to pay them their wages upon their return to the factory. But the workers returned only to find the factory closed. In May 2012 five other HeyTekstil factories were permanently closed, leaving another 1,618 people jobless without notice.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) contacted garment trading company Li & Fung from Hong Kong, who was buying from Hey Tekstil for Esprit, Esprit itself, and several other buyers. CCC also engaged with the Fair Labor Association, to which Hey Tekstil was a participating supplier, to seek a resolution to the case.

Worldwide actions in solidarity. This is in Thailand
CCC launched a web appeal and international solidarity actions were held in Thailand, Hong Kong and the Netherlands. Esprit and Li&Fung both have codes of conduct that state wages and benefits should be paid in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Unfortunately, after eight months of actions by the workers and their supporters, the workers of Hey Tekstil still haven't received their overdue wages and severance payments.

See also:

Esprit and Li & Fung leave Hey Tekstil workers hanging
Hey Tekstil campaign in Turkish
Severance pay explained

What do companies and Multi Stakeholder Initiaves think of the CCC? *

“CCC has been one of the defining influences on code of conduct over the last 10 years. Codes of conduct have moved from being a fringe idea to a central plank of single CSR policy in the industry. A large part of that is because CCC internationally have been a champion for the role of brands taking action... and have placed and kept the issue in the public domain.”

“CCC have had impact by raising our awareness, triggering the development of our code of conduct and our subsequent mechanisms on monitoring, disclosure practises, decision to join MSI, training and follow-up.”

“If there is a critical situation in a factory that we have not become aware of ourselves, we do of course react immediately, if this is brought to our attention by CCC.”

“All activities raise awareness but do not change policies, urgent appeals have most impact to improve or change the way of working with a supplier or improve a situation if needed.”

* Quotes from internal report that assesses how Clean Clothes Campaign's labour rights corporate accountability work, including the Urgent Appeal system, has impacted corporate behavior between 1994 and 2010.

Pins Brown, 2010. Impact Assessment of Corporate Accountability Activities of Clean Clothes Campaign. Unpublished report on file.