Korean-based stainless-steel manufacturer Daiyang SK Metal has employed every union-busting tactic since January 2010 against Birlesik Metal-Is. On 15 January the workers conducting a sit-in were violently attacked by police.
The striking workers at the Daiyang SK Metal plant located in the European Free Trade Zone of Corlu, Tekirdağ, North-West Turkey have battled for their basic trade union rights for nearly three years. They began the 15 January sit-in protest when they heard news that local management brought scabs from Korea to run the dormant machines of the striking workers.
The members of IndustriALL Global Union-affiliated Birlesik Metal-Is were viciously attacked by police wielding batons and tear gas, injuring five workers, two of whom were sent to hospital in an ambulance. The workers were attacked for conducting a peaceful sit-in to protest their illegal mistreatment by management.
Daiyang SK Metal is a joint venture between Korean firms SK Networks and Daiyang Metal. Daiyang owns 70 percent and supplies stainless steel coil to many multinational brands for use in IT, electronics, and home appliances. These multinational brands including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Electrolux, Siemens, Toshiba, Whirlpool, Bosch, Daewoo and Gorenje.
IndustriALL is now working to exert pressure through these client companies, which are organized by IndustriALL affiliates, and three of which are Global Framework Agreement partners.
Following a long legal battle where management repeatedly rejected the opportunity to sign a collective bargaining agreement, the Birlesik Metal-Is members took the decision to strike. The strike began on 15 November in line with Turkish legislation. During the strike, private security officers of the Free Trade Zone attacked and destroyed the strike tent, the company used other workers to run striking workers’ machines, a Korean manager tried to use violence against one of the striking workers and they various intimidation and repression tactics were employed.
Korean Metalworker affiliate KMWU has a long history of fighting union-busting with Daiyang, consistently refusing to sit down at the bargaining table with the union since 2006, and instead hiring thugs to repress their strike and lodging cases against the union leaders.
In a 28 December letter to the CEOs of Daiyang Metal and SK Holdings, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan urged the companies to “enter into meaningful and constructive dialogue with Birlesik Metal-Is without any delay to conclude the collective bargaining process”.
“It is clear to us that Daiyang SK has been, since the beginning, very hostile against unionization and union members who just want to use their basic rights to join a union, collective bargaining and right to strike guaranteed by the Constitution of Turkey as well as international labor conventions which Turkey has ratified.”