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Stop union crackdown in Turkey

At Yves Rocher's, just work and shut up!

Stop union crackdown in Turkey

The management of Kosan Kozmetik, a 51%-owned subsidiary of the Yves Rocher Group, has laid off employees, most of whom are women, for having joined a union. They demand their reinstatement and denounce the complicit inaction of the French group.

132 people

mainly women, lost their jobs after joining the union. The Kosan Kozmetik factory employs a total of 378 people.

In Gebze, the industrial district that borders Istanbul, the Kosan Kozmetik factory produces cosmetics under the Flormar brand, acquired in 2012 by the Rocher Group. The factory refuses to have unions. Yet the Rocher Group, the French cosmetics giant, better known as Yves Rocher, calls itself “an inclusive and open company”, committed to “fighting all forms of discrimination”. However, it does not appear to be fighting trade union discrimination, at least not everywhere.


After experiencing strong economic growth, Turkey has been facing high inflation since the beginning of 2018. “Prices go up every week. It’s become difficult for people,” says one of the striking workers.

Another employee, a team leader, explains: “We haven’t had a single pay rise in 15 years. And yet since our factory was sold to Yves Rocher, our company has grown and new stores have opened.”

In order to finally obtain an increase in their salary, which currently stands at around 1,600 Turkish lira per month (roughly €230), a majority of workers agreed to join the Petrol-İş union, which launched a registration campaign in the company in January. Until then, there was no union in the company, but Petrol-İş quickly signed up the number of members necessary for its representativeness to be recognised by the Ministry of Labour and for it to be able to enter into collective bargaining.

“I joined the union on March 21, and they fired me on March 23. The reason they gave for my dismissal was ‘weak performance’. Did it take them eight years to decide my performance was ‘weak’?”


When it learned of the first union memberships, management dismissed about twenty people.

Pinar Koca, who was among the first to be dismissed, shares her story: “I joined the union on March 21, and they fired me on March 23. The reason they gave for my dismissal was ‘weak performance’. Did it take them eight years to decide my performance was ‘weak’?”

Management reacted to the determination of the laid-off employees, who were staging demonstrations outside the factory, with more intimidation tactics, notably forcing employees to resign:

“During the tea break, I was clapping my fellow workers outside to show my support. When I went back in, I was taken to the conference room. There, they said: either you agree to work in production or you resign. But I normally hold an office job, so I had to give in my notice.”

€230 per month is the average salary in the Kosan Kozmetik factory in Turkey.

€230 per month

is the average salary in the Kosan Kozmetik factory in Turkey.


For the past six months, the employees who have been unjustly deprived of their jobs have been demonstrating outside the factory, despite regular raids by the police, which turn off the music and confiscate the banners.

At the same time, the union brought an action before the courts to obtain the opening of negotiations and ask for the workers’ reinstatement.

For Süleyman Akyüz, the president of Petrol-İş, “the challenge of this fight now extends beyond the scope of the company: if we succeed in setting up a trade union organisation, we open the way for other companies.” The Gebze industrial estate has thousands of workers and all eyes are riveted on the picket line.

For their demands to be successful, workers need support today.


Letter of petition


Message sent to:

Bris Rocher, CEO, Rocher Group

Dear Mr. Rocher,

The French citizens, who are also consumers of your Yves Rocher brand, are attentive to the situation of the people employed by Kosan Kosmetik at the Gebze site.
In support of the 132 people unfairly deprived of their jobs in 2018, I ask you:

to put pressure on your subsidiary to reinstate all these people to their previous positions, without discrimination with regard to their union involvement;
to ensure that the trade union representativeness of the majority union Petrol-İş, recognised by the Turkish authorities on 24 May 2018, also be recognised by the Kosan Kosmetik factory of your Flormar brand.

I hope that Groupe Rocher will not allow the rights of those who work for it to be violated and would be grateful if you could keep me informed of any measures you take in this regard.
Yves Rocher invites its clients to “act beautifully!” and celebrates women with its hashtag #BelleEtEngagée. The women who are taking action in Gebze seem to have taken the brand at its word and their slogan proves it: “It's not cosmetics, but resistance that makes you look good!”

“The union will return, there is no alternative! Here, women are in the majority. Women are strong, they will do it!” declares a worker.

“I have confidence in the union, but I also expect the people of Turkey to support women. I appeal particularly to women: do not remain indifferent to the resistance.”