The famous cosmetics company Flormar has dismissed 120 (mainly) women workers from their jobs in Kocaeli Gebze (Turkey). The workers had started to unionise, joining Petrol-İş, Chemical and Rubber Workers’ Union of Turkey in early 2018 to fight for better pay and conditions and to close the gender pay gap. After the union reached the required number of members it was recognised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security as the authorised union, but Flormar started to fire unionised workers. First, they dismissed 85 workers, and the number reached 115 as more workers were sacked for supporting their co-workers! The owners erected a barbed wire fence around the factory and by the second week of resistance had bussed 50 subcontractors into the factory.
The workers started a demonstration in front of the factory and their actions became one of the most discussed events in the country and demonstrations started at other factories. A large number of social media users supported the Flormar resistance. Many artists also visited picket lines and showed support through their social media pages.
Many workers have spoken out about their harsh exploitation and said that they have no rights.
A worker Zuhal Aktas spoke to BBC Turkish and said, “We became members of the union because of the injustices of the factory”. Another worker Ayse Ozturk explained that they joined because of the low wages that they are paid; “When we made our requests they said ‘Get out!’ ‘If there’s a better pay go there!’ As soon as they found out that 120 workers became members of the union they put us through the door”.
Ayse Guldal said; “I have been working here for 11 years and earn 1900tl. We will continue our struggle, but we are asking women not to buy Flormar products in order to support us”. Nurhan Guler who has been working for Flormar for 15 years said: “When I started working here the company had just opened…the heating and the ceiling was not yet installed…we organised a campaign and collected signatures as we were very cold and wanted these issues to be solved. They [the managers] accused us of being terrorists! This was 15 years ago… They want us to carry 100 kilo barrels and this has led to many of our friends with slipped discs in their back.”
A male worker Tuncay Sonmez said: “The oppression increased as they heard that we are organising. They tried to remove us”. Sonmez mentioned that the owners of the factory pulled tarpaulin across the walls of the resistance area and the service vehicles drove on to them! “The employers are scared of us. They are suppressing this by provoking us. They have even put cameras on trees and are watching us everywhere. If we attempt to do anything, they will show it to the court as evidence. We are aware.”
Kosan Cosmetics, which controls Flormar, has rejected a BBC Turkish interview request. In a written explanation to the BBC the company said, “Without any legal basis and contrary to the labour law, the workers stopped work, stopped production, encouraged the employees at work to promote illegal activities and even use violence”. The company further stated that; “They attacked and beat their colleagues during the strike action, these events are written and visually recorded”. However, the company has not met the request from BBC Turkish to see these recordings unanswered.
The main slogan of the famous cosmetics company Flormar adverts is, “Women can win only if they want to!” It is a powerful statement encouraging women to buy cosmetics products produced by the company. Flormar is a cosmetics company with factories across the world it was acquired in 1970 by a Turkish family and started production in Turkey. It is now one of the world’s leading companies in cosmetics; 650 shops located in 250 cities in 104 countries and 40,000 retail outlets. However, this article is not about the great profits of the company but about the workers who have been dismissed from their jobs and have been fighting for nearly a month.
Victimised Flormar workers want your support. Please send messages of solidarity and boycott Flormar products.
Please send messages of solidarity to #FlormarDeğilDirenişGüzelleştirir