The resistance of Flormar workers who had been fired for getting unionised continues on the 80th day in front of the factory in İstanbul, Turkey. Flormar is a subsidiary of worldwide French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher.
Although Flormar employed subcontracted workers to break the strike and not to hinder the process of production, it has started to dismiss the new workers, too. soL News interviewed one of these workers who had been fired after two and a half months about the situation at the factory.
Can you tell us about your recruitment period?
I had been unemployed for a long time before I got a job at Flormar. I accepted the job due to the financial pressures we all have, although I was aware of the strike. However, I tried as much as possible to inform the people resisting about what’s going on inside.
‘THEY QUESTIONED WHETHER I HAD POLITICAL OR NGO AFFILIATION’
What did they ask during the job interview?
One of the questions they asked was about whether I had a membership to a political party or an NGO. They asked about the workplace of my husband. They had the list of workplaces with workers’ union and checked my husband’s workplace from that list. They said “There is a workers’ union there. That’s a problem for us.” They continued asking “Would you support any strike in your husband’s workplace?”, “Would you attend the May 1 demonstrations?”. Although my answers were not proper for them, they had to employ me. Around 200 workers were employed along with me.
How were your first days?
They did not intervene us much at first since they needed us. Supervisors were asking whether we were okay. Some new colleagues thought that "Flormar was a good workplace" just because the administrators behaved warmly. But they were always telling us, "Show yourself, and become payroll employees". They both tried to threat and motivate us with the promise of payroll employment as they told us that they would never reemploy the resisting workers.
'OPPRESSION INCREASED AS WE LEARNED THE JOB'
What did you experience then?
Oppressions increased as we learned the job. The administrators who used to ask us how we were doing started to come and see us when the daily end product was as not much as they wanted. We also started to perceive the negative aspects of the factory. Bad quality food, sharing a locker with another person, non-hygienic dressing rooms and bathrooms...Although we complained about these a couple of times, they did nothing. There was no one to address these problems. We had no connection to the subcontracting firm after we signed the agreement. Our complaints had no result.
What about your working hours?
We had two shifts between 07.30-17.30 and 17.30-03.30. Although the scheduled working day was 5 days, they always called us for overwork at the weekends. In addition to that, if you are listed for overwork at the weekend and yet did not show up, they cut it from your salary.
NO WORK SAFETY
Can you tell us about your work conditions?
Our departments contain chemicals. Work safety kits arrived quite late, and they were not enough for everyone. Masks were not distributed to the workers other than the machine operator. Senior workers suffer from asthma and spinal disk herniation.
I got sick recently during the night shift and they did not even call a cab to the hospital.
They give us market checks and yet threaten us to cut it off.
UNIONISED WORKERS ARE STILL OPPRESSED
Can you tell us about the condition of the unionised workers inside?
They act in solidarity with each other and yet they criticise the subcontracting workers since they think they broke the resistance. Some of them are sympathetic to us. However, the employers change their departments to oppress them.
How many subcontracting workers have been fired recently?
I guess it amounts to 35 workers with the latest dismissals. The workers are told not to come to the work after their shift.
What were the reasons of dismissals?
Lame excuses like dressing, improper work conduct, and not doing the necessary work procedures. Everyone is agitated and expect a sudden dismissal.