Turkish workers and their allies are launching a series of protests against Mulberry after the British bag-maker allegedly failed to protect the rights of the staff at SF Leather,a supplier factory in Izmir. Popular with celebrities such as Alexa Chung, who has a bag named after her, and Emma Watson, the luxury brand is taking flak for its apparent failure to intervene after factory management fired 14 workers who had joined a union, purportedly to ask for better pay. Ninety percent of SF Leather’s business comes from Mulberry, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations in 15 European countries dedicated to improving working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industries.
“Workers at SF Leather make 8,000 Mulberry handbags a month for a pittance, but when they join the union to ask for higher wages they are fired, and Mulberry does nothing,” Abdulhalim Demir, a campaigner from Clean Clothes Campaign in Turkey, said in a statement. “What sort of message does this send to their rich customers? To us it says that Mulberry is no good.”
Labor activists, who are planning to picket the company’s stores and Somerset-based headquarters this week, say that Mulberry is in violation of its own “global-sourcing principles,” which state commitments to international human rights such as freedom of association.
Protestors will be gathering at Mulberry outlets in cities across Europe and the United States, including Istanbul, Bristol, Oslo, Copenhagen, New York, and Dallas.
“As a worker in the Mulberry factory SF Leather, I work hard every day to make profits for Mulberry, and Mulberry has repaid us by crushing our union.” said Mehmet Cin, a worker from the factory and a member of the Deriteks union. “Until now Mulberry has ignored our rights and refused to take responsibility its workers, but we will not be silent, we should not be punished for standing up for our basic rights.”
“We want SF leather and Mulberry to hear us,” another worker said. “We want them to reinstate the 14 sacked workers and respect our union rights.”