ACT NOW: Stop union busting at YATAŞ Furniture Company in Ankara

A common pattern of union-busting in Turkey conducted against the BWI-affiliated Wood Workers' Union (AĞAÇ-İŞ) in Ankara. AĞAÇ-İŞ is affiliated with Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ) at the national level. AĞAÇ-İŞ 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 YATAŞ Furniture Company in Hasanoğlan, Ankara came to AĞAÇ-İŞ 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 İplik-İş affiliated with HAK-İŞ, a confederation close to the government. According to the workers' testimony, in 2001 the textile union registered YATAŞ 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 YATAŞ due to business line restriction in the same year. However, union dues have been deducted and shown at workers' payrolls.

Before registering YATAŞ workers, AĞAÇ-İŞ 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.

AĞAÇ-İŞ has started organizing activities at YATAŞ and registered about 100 members despite the very hostile employer. Yet the employer was hostile only to AĞAÇ-İŞ 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 AĞAÇ-İŞ and to instead join a HAK-İŞ affiliated wood workers' union preferred by management while AĞAÇ-İŞ 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 Ağaç İş, another affiliated union with HAK-İŞ. They were promised wage increase and threatened by the employer with layoffs if they do not register.

What has been done to AĞAÇ-İŞ members and YATAŞ 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 YATAŞ 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-İş), TÜRK-İŞ affiliated Municipality Workers' Unions (Belediye-İş) and Food Workers' Union (Tek Gıda-İş) members had been also pressured by HAK-İŞ to rescind their membership.

The BWI calls upon Turkish Government to respect basic human and trade union rights. What has been done to AĞAÇ-İŞ 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.

for link to on-line letter

BWINT.ORG, Aug 24 2011

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