Paris & Istanbul, 15 November 2023 – 47 additional former employees have joined the legal action brought in France against the Yves Rocher Group for breach of its duty of vigilance in Turkiye.
On 23 March 2022, Sherpa, ActionAid France, the Turkish trade union Petrol-Iş and 34 former employees of a Turkish subsidiary of the Yves Rocher Group took the cosmetics company to court before the Paris Judicial Court.
Since then, 47 new people have joined the lawsuit. They accuse the company of failing to meet its obligations under the French law on the duty of vigilance, adopted in 2017, with respect to the trade union freedom and fundamental rights of workers in its subsidiary in Turkiye. The employees claim to have suffered gender discrimination and serious attacks on their health and safety, including sexual and moral harassment.
“Management was based on pressure,” says Elif Uslu, a worker in the factory’s eyeshadow department who was made redundant in 2018 and is one of the new claimants. “There was a lot of psychological pressure. We were under constant pressure to move fast. Arguments broke out because of this. The verbal violence started from the top. It was a chain reaction.”
When employees joined the Petrol-Iş union to try to improve their working conditions, they were intimidated, threatened and then sacked by the dozens.
“The managers told us: ‘Give up your union membership or you won’t get a cent. The company doesn’t want a union. We’re going to sack you one by one”, recalls Hatice Durmus, a worker in the lipstick filling section. Güler Keles, a worker in the make-up department, adds: “Every day we heard that more people were being made redundant. I could see the pressure being put on my colleagues, and I knew my turn was coming.”
Sultan Kiliç has also joined the lawsuit against Yves Rocher: “I have become aware of my own rights as a woman, both at work and in my personal life, and I have learnt to defend myself.”
The legal action, which now involves 81 plaintiffs, highlights both the structural nature of the Yves Rocher Group’s failings, which have affected a large number of employees, and the need to facilitate access to justice for people affected by the activities of multinationals abroad.
Selgin Kaplan, Editor of Petrol-Iş Women magazine, concludes: “Thanks to this mobilisation, this struggle, women’s participation has changed. It’s no longer just about working conditions, it’s about women’s dignity.”
The legal action is now at the pre-trial stage, as the Yves Rocher Group has raised inadmissibility objections.These issues will have to be decided before the case is heard on the merits.