Turkey: Deva Continues to Sicken Union Members with More Dismissals


IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Petrol-Is keeps campaigning against wild union busting engaged by pharmaceutical manufacturer Deva Holding. The count of the dismissed workers reached 24, sacked simply for signing up with the union.

Deva Holding is a Turkey-based pharmaceutical company, however EastPharma Ltd., established in 2006 and incorporated in Bermuda, is the indirect holding company of Deva. The investment firm GEM (Global Equities Management) owns about 65% of EastPharma while about 15% of the company is publicly traded along with 15% of its Deva Holdings subsidiary.

Such complicated ownership structure has rebounded negatively onto labour relations. As a matter of fact, four years ago, the company management used different tactics to demolish a 40-year-long union existence, contractual labour relations and mature social dialogue with Petrol-Is at Deva Holding plants located in the production facilities located in the provinces of Tekirdağ, Kocaeli and Istanbul.

At that period, Deva management had announced that there would no longer be a collective agreement using the pretext of high production costs and government policies in the pharmaceutical industry. They had exerted pressure on workers to sign individual labour contracts in place of the collective agreement and then dismissed 70 employees because they had refused to sign individual contracts. The local labour courts have ruled that Deva terminated employment contracts of the dismissed workers on unjustified grounds and all of them must be reinstated. However not one sacked worker has been able to return.

Over the years, working conditions for Deva workers have deteriorated with low wages, insufficient social benefits, continuous threat of dismissal, mobbing, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. In June this year, an overwhelming majority of Deva workers started to re-join Petrol-Is. However the answer from Deva Holding was again harsh with dismissals. The 24 dismissed workers were simply exercising their legitimate fundamental rights to freedom of association, guaranteed by international labour conventions of the ILO, as well as Turkey’s Constitution and national trade union legislation.

“We have lost our patience. Don’t forget that we are a 50-million power,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, in a recent demonstration held in front of the premises of Deva Holding in Istanbul. “Deva cannot stop us in defending our rights. They will sign the collective agreement, otherwise we will challenge them wherever they are”.

EastPharma claims that it wants to be the place where east meets west. It also intends to open more plants and obtain FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and European Medicines Agency (EMEA) certification for its manufacturing facilities.

Earlier this year, IndustriALL Global Union approached the CEO of Deva Holdings urging the company to immediately re-instate the eight dismissed union members; withdraw all pressure exerted over the union members; and enter into constructive dialogue with Petrol-Is since the workers have a legitimate and legal right to choose their unions freely. For more information.

As the company is unresponsive, even escalating it’s anti-union campaign, IndustriALL Global Union has launched an electronic campaign in cooperation with Labourstart for re-instatement of the dismissed workers and recognition of Petrol-Is. Please join.