27 December, 2017Workers at Posco Assan in Turkey, together with leaders of IndustriALL’s affiliate Birlesik Metal-Is, were detained on 26 December. They had started a march to demand that the Ministry of Labour issue a legal certificate that the union had already waited 42 days for, contrary to the usual practice of a couple of days.
As a joint venture of Turkish Holding Kibar and Korean-based Posco, the local management follows the “no union policy” of Posco and has over the last months fired 80 union members.
IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Birlesik Metal has applied to the Minstry of Labour for a majority certificate that would give them the legal right to represent the 420 workers.
Gathering to march on 26 December from Izmit to Ankara and the Ministry of Labour to demand the certificate, around 40 people, including Birlesik Metal General President Adnan Serdaroglu, General Secretary Ozkan Atar, as well as other leaders, were detained.
After being beaten by security forces, the marchers were taken to hospital, and eventually to the Security Department at the Kocaeli Governship. They were all released later the same evening.
Showing their determination to stand up for their rights, the workers started to march the following morning. As the Ministry of Labour and Social security then promised to issue the certificate by 29 December, the union has temporarily halted the march, but will continue the march and the demand for the certificate.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan strongly condemns the treatment of the workers and unionists:
This shameful behaviour shows that peaceful demonstrations are no longer possible in Turkey. But the union and the workers are showing their strength and their determination to fight for their rights.
IndustriALL will continue to support the struggle until the workers' rights are upheld. This is an important step and not the end; we will keep the fight alive and continue until victory.
Kemal Özkan visited the dismissed workers earlier in December and participated in a press conference in front of the plant in Izmit, conveying the message of international solidarity.
The fighting Posco Assan workers are receiving a lot of support from society, civic organizations and political parties. The leader of Turkey's main opposition party CHP, Kemal Kilicadroglu, visited the workers and pledged full solidarity, in addition to support from the members of parliament from the Kocaeli province.
Posco is the world’s fifth-largest steel producer.