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Rubber workers in Turkey picket for union recognition

25 March, 2019Workers at Kale Conveyor in Turkey stopped production on 6 March 2019 demanding better working conditions, union recognition and the reinstatement of two dismissed union activists.

Members of IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Petrol-Is (oil, chemical and rubber workers’ union) are protesting against intolerable working conditions, low wages and insufficient health and safety measures at the conveyor belt factory in Istanbul, Turkey.

The majority of workers at Kale Conveyor joined Petrol-İş in last quarter of 2018 and the Ministry of Labour issued an official majority certificate in favor of Petrol-İş recognizing the union as the legitimate bargaining partner on 12 October.

Instead of addressing the issues of workers’ concerns and entering into good faith negotiations, the company used loopholes in the national legislation to challenge the certificate issued by the Ministry of Labour. It has since waged a campaign of intimidation against the workforce, and unlawfully dismissed two union leaders.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, urged the company to correct the misconduct in December 2018 saying:

“Kale Conveyor’s management behaviour constitutes a blatant violation of Turkish labour law as well as fundamental international labour standards, including Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining of the International Labour Organization (ILO). It is incumbent on Kale Conveyor to abide strictly by national and international labour law.”

In an attempt to resolve the conflict, Kemal Ozkan IndustriALL assistant general secretary met with Kale Conveyor management in January 2019. However, the company continued to deny any wrongdoing and even referred to the country’s independence in an effort to reject the predominance of universally recognized international legislation over Turkish national legislation.

After the industrial action started, IndustriALL wrote again to Kale Conveyor urging the company to drop all legal actions and immediately sit down with Petrol-İş to engage in collective bargaining.

In absence of any proper action from the company, IndustriALL reached out to the major customers of Kale Conveyor asking them “to act immediately by conducting due diligence at Kale Conveyor, which would entail, inter alia, calling on the company to drop any legal actions, reinstate the two leading union members, and engage in collective bargaining with Petrol-İş.”

“Kale Conveyor cannot continue not to pretend to see the legitimate demands of its employees”

said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary.

“Our international campaign will continue until the workers’ voices are heard and justice prevails at the workplace. We will never allow any employer like Kale Conveyor to blatantly violate fundamental workers’ rights.”

Kale Conveyor is the largest manufacturer of rubber conveyor belts in Istanbul, Turkey. Approximately 70 per cent of the company production is exported to more than 40 countries all over the world.