BWI OnLine – August 24, 2011

ACT NOW: Stop Union Busting at YATA? Furniture Company in Ankara

A common pattern of union-busting in Turkey conducted against the BWI-affiliated Wood Workers’ Union (A?AÇ-??) in Ankara. A?AÇ-?? is affiliated with Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-??) at the national level. A?AÇ-?? members have been pressured to rescind their membership and forced to join a different trade union preferred by the management. The BWI is calling for action by Turkey’s new Minister of Labour and Social Security, Faruk Çelik to respect workers’ rights.

In March, 2011 a group of workers at YATA? Furniture Company in Hasano?lan, Ankara came to A?AÇ-?? saying that they want to change their union. Workers expressed that there is no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place even though they are members of a textile union, Öz ?plik-?? affiliated with HAK-??, a confederation close to the government. According to the workers’ testimony, in 2001 the textile union registered YATA? workers as members with the support of the management against the Trade Union Act no. 2821 and Collective Bargaining, Strike and Lockout Act no. 2822. Ironically, the Ministry of Labour had sent a letter to union upon request saying the union cannot organize YATA? due to business line restriction in the same year. However, union dues have been deducted and shown at workers’ payrolls.

Before registering YATA? workers, A?AÇ-?? had applied to the Ministry of Labour requesting an investigation if there is a CBA at the workplace and if so which union. Ministry investigations confirm that the YATAS workplace in Ankara operates in the wood sector and there is no CBA in place. However, the same employer has another workplace in Kayseri operating in the textile sector and Oz Iplik Is trade union has a CBA in place at that workplace.

A?AÇ-?? has started organizing activities at YATA? and registered about 100 members despite the very hostile employer. Yet the employer was hostile only to A?AÇ-?? members. After finding out about the organizing drive, 3 members have been fired due to union activities. Workers have been pressured to rescind their membership in A?AÇ-?? and to instead join a HAK-?? affiliated wood workers’ union preferred by management while A?AÇ-?? organizing drive was on the way.

On August 11, the production was stopped at the.workplace and workers were taken to a notary public collectively by buses for registering with Öz A?aç ??, another affiliated union with HAK-??. They were promised wage increase and threatened by the employer with layoffs if they do not register.

What has been done to A?AÇ-?? members and YATA? workers are obviously a violation of ILO conventions no 87 and no 98. Workers’ basic human and trade union rights should be respected. Workers are free to choose their own unions. What has been done to YATA? workers are also a violation of the Turkish Constitution article 51, Trade Union Act 2821 article 22 and 31.

In previous years, another BWI-affiliated Forestry Workers’ Union (Orman-??), TÜRK-?? affiliated Municipality Workers’ Unions (Belediye-??) and Food Workers’ Union (Tek G?da-??) members had been also pressured by HAK-?? to rescind their membership.

The BWI calls upon Turkish Government to respect basic human and trade union rights. What has been done to A?AÇ-?? workers clearly contravenes the national legislation as well as the ILO conventions ratified by Turkey. The BWI urges Turkish Government to ensure that workers of Turkey are allowed to exercise their democratic rights to freedom of association without any interference.

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