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International union campaign delivers agreement at Georg Fischer in Turkey

24 July, 2014IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate, Lastik-Is, has thanked IndustriALL, Swiss affiliate UNIA and all other supporters for the solidarity campaign that contributed to the signing of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with George Fischer Hakan Plastik, beating an attempt at union-busting.

Lastik-Is general president, Abdullah Karacan, told IndustriALL the CBA was signed on 22 July. The signing signifies a long-fought victory to organize workers at the Turkish subsidiary of Swiss based Georg Fischer, a market-leading producer of plastic tubing.

In a letter to the CEO of Georg Fischer before the signing, IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina wrote: “The damage done to labour relations at your company’s Turkish subsidiary Georg Fischer Hakan Plastik through months of union busting and sacking of 40 union office bearers seems to be taking time to heal.

I appeal to you to give your strong approval to the management of Georg Fischer Hakan Plastik to swiftly sign the new collective bargaining agreement, and work together to build a constructive and mutually beneficial industrial relations system in the company.”

9,000 supporters joined the IndustriALL-LabourStart campaign to write to Georg Fischer to demand a fair collective agreement and an end to union busting of Lastik-Is, which belongs to the Turkish national centre, DISK.

IndustriALL’s Swiss affiliate Unia also intervened in solidarity with Lastik-Is members at Hakan Plastik, calling on the Swiss management of Georg Fischer to ensure fair treatment of its Turkish workers.

The Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security issued official certification confirming that a majority of the workers at Hakan Plastik belong to Lastik-Is, making it an official party to a collective agreement. However the local management challenged this certification on a groundless basis to stall the process with a view to getting rid of the union presence at the plant, while refusing to re-instate the dismissed workers. In the meantime, negotiations between Lastik-Is and Hakan Plastik management to reach a collective agreement continued.

The bargaining process was disrupted by the local management attempts to exclude mechanics, electricians, quality controllers, forklift operators and experienced workers from the agreement. The local management also attempted to dissuade workers from being members of Lastik-Is by awarding gifts and bonuses aside from those discussed in bargaining. At the Urfa facility new workers are told not to join the union, and at the Çerkezköy plant at least 100 contract workers have been hired from at least two agencies to undermine bargaining.

In spite of these barriers, a final meeting was set for 14 July to sign the new collective bargaining agreement. Disappointingly the local management came to that meeting saying they were unable to sign because the approval had not been sent from head office in Switzerland. But that approval came and the agreement was signed 8 days later on 22 July.

“This is a real victory,” says Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary. “An international campaign conducted by IndustriALL, coupled with a determined struggle in the field by Lastik-Is, has brought this achievement. This is our way to fight back worldwide.”