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Organizing campaign at DESA in Turkey continues

10 January, 2013IndustriALL continues to give full support to the organizing campaign of its Turkish affiliate Deri-Is at leather goods company DESA that produces for international brands.

An IndustriALL TAKE ACTION campaign in December, supported by LabourStart, which remains activated, resulted in more than 3,000 protest messages being sent to DESA by the end of 2012, prompting the company to meet with IndustriALL and Deri-Is in Istanbul on 7 January 2013.

At the meeting, the global and national unions put presented concrete cases on how workers are being pressured when they use their basic right of freedom of association at both plants. The company management continued to claim that its behaviour has always been in accordance with national legislation without any violation on fundamental rights and freedoms. The unions urged the company to:

  • stop all threats and violations against workers;
  • jointly organize meetings with all the workers to guarantee them that they have right to join union on their choice;
  • sign a collective agreement with Deri-Is on behalf of its members;
  • recognize union representatives inside the plants; and
  • give chance Deri-Is to access to its members by entering into factories.

DESA management declared that even though international standards require it, as a Turkish entity, they will continue to act on the basis of national legislation. However the company management said they would make an evaluation, and return back to IndustriALL and Deri-Is.

Earlier, IndustriALL Global Union’s Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan travelled to Turkey to meet Deri-Is and workers at DESA plants in Düzce and Sefaköy in December. At individual meetings, workers explained how their rights have been violated by the company through threats and intimidation by middle level managers and chiefs at the plants. Union members also provided documents that illustrate the local managers’ attitudes against union organizing.

On 24 December 2012 a press conference was organized in front of the DESA plant in Düzce with involvement of union members, Deri-Is officials, local community supports as well as IndustriALL Global Union. Managers prevented workers from attending the conference by locking the outside gates of the plant during the lunch break. In his statement, President of Deri-Is, Musa Servi, announced that in spite of all pressures, DESA workers show strong interest to join his union.

“We have demonstrated all our goodwill to the company for a genuine dialogue on the basis of international labour standards,” said IndustriALL Global Union’s Kemal Özkan. “If meaningful progress is not made, our campaign will continue until Deri-Is is recognized by DESA as bargaining partner,” he added.