On November 5, 2015, the FLA received a Third Party Complaint regarding freedom of association at a facility owned and operated by Hugo Boss in Izmir, Turkey. The Teksif Union, which filed the complaint, alleged harassment of union members by management and that the dismissal of a union member in October 2015 was motivated by the worker's union activities. Subsequently, the FLA received a second complaint, also from the Teksif Union, alleging that another union member had also been dismissed by Hugo Boss Izmir management because of his union activities. The FLA consolidated the two individual complaints into a single Third Party Complaint.
While the Third Party Complaint process was ongoing, the FLA learned that the two workers had filed legal cases in local courts against Hugo Boss Izmir regarding their dismissals. In one of the cases, the complainant breached the rules that govern the Third Party Complaint process by submitting a draft confidential report of the complaint investigation to the court. Due to the pursuit of local legal remedies and breach of confidentiality, the FLA has terminated this Third Party Complaint.
Nonetheless, there are freedom of association issues at the factory that need to be urgently addressed by Hugo Boss Izmir’s management. In an SCI assessment conducted in July 2015, the FLA identified a number of instances of noncompliance with the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct related to freedom of association, among them several cases where the court had ruled that the employee’s dismissal was based on union membership and that the employee was to be reinstated by the employer. While the Turkish Labor Law allows for severance pay in lieu of an employee’s reinstatement, FLA recommends the option of reinstatement for employees whose dismissals have been established by the court to be based on union membership.
The FLA has provided Hugo Boss Izmir management with recommendations on how to ensure that disciplinary and dismissal decisions are based on objective criteria and are in no way influenced by the employee’s union affiliation. The FLA expects that Hugo Boss Izmir would move expeditiously to implement these remedial steps in order to give meaning to the company’s expressed commitment to respect the associational rights of workers.