27 January, 2021Turkish union Birleşik Metal İş has filed a complaint with the OECD over labour relations concerns against Swedish multinational Systemair, after attempts to peacefully resolve a conflict have failed.
After organizing more than 50 per cent of the workers at Systemair’s Turkish manufacturing subsidiary Systemair HSK, the Turkish Ministry of Labour certified IndustriALL affiliate Birleşik Metal-İş as a bargaining agent in October last year.
But instead of engaging with the union, local management appealed the decision from MoL, a common union busting tactic by Turkish employers. In direct connection with the appeal, local management used Covid-19 measures as an excuse to force union members to go on unpaid leave. Currently 21 union members are on unpaid leave.
Systemair claims 100 per cent of its strategic suppliers comply with its code of conduct. But when workers took peaceful actions around the plant, local management proceeded to fire two workers for supporting the demonstrations held by the terminated workers.
According to Birleşik Metal-İş, the intimidation and union busting are continuing. Systemair HSK is still threatening organized workers with unpaid leave unless they renounce their union membership, while actively recruiting new staff.
Swedish unions Unionen and IF Metall are well represented with local unions at the company in Sweden, with good working relations with management.
“It’s sad and surprising that the Turkish management has not accepted the union and Turkish legislation,”
says Karin Ström, Unionen, and Mats Svensson, IF Metall.
“In dialogue with the Swedish management, we have to no avail tried to convey that the only way forward is to recognize Birlesik as representatives of the workers and to start a genuine dialogue with the local union. We hope that this unnecessary conflict will come to end soon and be replaced by a constructive dialogue.”
After numerous attempts at a dialogue were refused by local management, Birlesik Metal-Is filed a complaint at OECD’s National Contact Point in Sweden.
”Systemair HSK has refused to engage with the union, even after we were recognized as the certified majority union,”
says Özkan Atar, Birlesik Metal-Is general secretary.
”Instead, the employer has forced our members to leave the union by threatening with unpaid leave. And the parent company has chosen to turn a blind eye to the violations of fundamental workers’ rights, even after our Swedish sister organizations raised the issues. We will continue to fight until we get justice.”
In a solidarity statement, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union, denounce Systemair’s behaviour, calling it
“completely unacceptable and in clear violation of its own policies, Turkish labour law and fundamental international standards”.
The statement also calls on Systemair to reinstate the union members forced on unpaid leave, to immediately stop union busting and to enter into constructive cooperation with Birlesik Metal-Is.
Systemair produces ventilation equipment and employs more than 6,000 people in 79 operating companies around the world. The Turkish subsidiary Systemair HSK is fully owned by Systemair.