Why won’t Roche stop the abuse of workers making their product?

22.01.2015

“Let me tell you four things: Do not record this. There will never be a union in this workplace. Leave the union now and get a 30 per cent pay rise. Stay in the union and get sacked.” This was the announcement made by Deva Holdings management to workers after the Turkish Labour Ministry ordered the company to recognize the workers’ trade union.

Pharmaceuticals giant Roche has failed to intervene and stop its Turkish business partner, Deva Holdings, carrying out an aggressive attack on workers’ attempts to form a union.

IndustriALL Global Union called on Roche to intervene at a critical juncture at the end of November when a response to the Labour Ministry edict was needed.

Roche sent its Turkish management to meet Deva in mid-December. Roche concluded however that Deva was acting in compliance with Turkish law, regardless of international law and Roche’s sustainability and compliance commitments. Roche failed to address the mass sackings and other grave labour rights violations.

Since the Turkish Labour Ministry instructed Deva to begin collective bargaining with Petrol-İş as its recognized bargaining partner on 14 October, the company management has continued sacking trade union members, given pay rises to workers leaving the union, threatened further action against anyone refusing to quit the union, tampered with Labour Ministry classifications to skew the bargaining unit, and built up a climate of fear and intimidation inside the workplace.

IndustriALL affiliated Petrol-İş has filed a court case against these actions, but during the delay Deva continues to sack union members and offer pay rises to those who quit the union. The first court hearing of this case will be 1 April 2015.

Deva began the year 2015 with the same behaviour, sacking union members Sercan Kambur and Can Topçu on 8 and 9 January respectively. See the table of all 32 Deva employees who have been sacked since 20 June simply for being members of the union.

IndustriALL general secretary Raina wrote to Roche on 20 January:

“The simple fact is that a considerable portion of Deva’s workforce is being treated without dignity and respect, and aggressively denied their right to join and be represented by a union. This situation should be unacceptable to Roche, both instinctively and in compliance with your company’s sustainability and compliance commitments.

IndustriALL will be forced to escalate a public campaign if the situation is not remedied by the end of February.”

The Deva management has been sent thousands of protest messages as part of a global LabourStart campaign supporting the Deva workers.

In the years following Deva’s 2010 union busting of Petrol-İş at the three sites in Çerkezköy, Kartepe and the Topkapı area of Istanbul, working conditions have deteriorated. Workers have suffered non-payment of wage increments, harassment, wrongful dismissals, and poor occupational health and safety. These worsening conditions moved the workers to rejoin Petrol-İş in 2014.