Crown Holdings urged to commit to OECD guidelines


In its final statement, the U.S. National contact point (USNCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, recommends that Crown Holdings, Inc. should “explicitly commit itself to implementing the Guidelines” to ensure workers’ rights are respected.

The USNCP also said it regretted the unwillingness of U.S. packing multinational, Crown, to participate in mediation with regard to the alleged conduct of Crown subsidiaries in Canada and Turkey.

The statement, which was issued on 24 December 2015, came after more than a year's consideration of allegations submitted by IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, United Steelworkers and Birlesik Metal-Is, representing Crown workers in Canada and Turkey respectively.

In the statement, USNCP recommends that Crown Holdings should implement OECD Guidelines “ensuring that rights are respected - the rights of its workers, including the right of workers to establish or join trade unions of their own choosing, as well as the rights of other individuals affected by its business operations.”

The statement reads that in their responses the company states that the all the issues are addressed by the judicial and administrative legal systems of respective countries. USNCP pointed that in many cases the Guidelines go beyond a simple calling for respect for local law. Therefore simply complying with national law does not necessarily place a company in compliance with the Guidelines.

USW also made a complaint against Crown to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in Canada. The parties managed to reach a deal on 8 July 2015, and on 10 August the parties reported a successful return to work, putting an end to a devastating 22-month strike in Canada for workers and their families.

The problems with Crown Turkish subsidiary BevCan, which began in February 2012, when the first worker involved in organizing was fired, remain unsolved.  USW and Birlesik Metal-Is reported Crown attempts to intimidate workers to stop them joining the union at two company facilities in Osmanie and Izmit. A factory manager at Crown BevCan was accused of using violence and threat in order to force workers not to join the union in 2012. Criminal complaints were filed in courts in Osmaniye and Izmit against him.

Crown BevCan also exploited legal barriers to delay recognition of the union Birlesik-Is as the legitimate representative of workers.

Later, Crown BevCan participated in collective bargaining, but showed no interest in reaching a fair deal with the union. When the union organized a legitimate strike, the company pressured workers and undermined the strike through a forced withdrawal of 33 workers' signatures supporting the strike, thus declaring the strike illegal.

Birlesik-Is reported that the company fired 26 workers based on their involvement in union organizing activities. The company denies the dismissals were as a result of anti-union discrimination.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary said,

Before and during the entire process of the case being considered by the U.S. National Contact Point, Crown Holdings showed no will to negotiate with the unions. Instead they tried to undermine every attempt by our affiliates to have meaningful dialogue. They refused to enter into mediation, showing no respect for the OECD guidelines that regulate multinationals’ behaviour. This is not the behaviour of a responsible company. We won’t stop fighting Crown until it respects the rights of all its workers.”

The guidelines are a part of the OECD’s declaration on international investment and multinational enterprises addressed to the companies operating in or from the territories of the OECD countries.

Full copy of the Final Statement is available on the link