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Union picket at Spanish packaging company in Turkey enters ninth week

25 July, 2019A picket by IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate, Selüloz-İş, at Spanish-owned cardboard packaging company, Saica Pack, has entered its ninth week.

Workers are protesting against the company in Söğütlü town of Sakarya province after it unlawfully dismissed six trade union members on 29 May 2019.

The company is refusing to recognize the union, even though the Turkish Ministry of Labour issued official certification on 29 April stating that Selüloz-İş has a sufficient majority for being a bargaining partner.

The dismissals are part of an intimidation campaign launched by Saica Pack Sakarya after a large majority of workers joined the union in April. The sacked Selüloz-İş members were forced to sign papers indicating that they wanted to terminate their employment through public notary, but union members refused to do so.

Selüloz-İş members are not backing down.

IndustriALL wrote to the Saica Group in Spain on 31 May, urging the company to reinstate the trade unionists, stop harassing members on account of their union membership, and ensure respect for the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining under ILO Conventions.

IndustriALL's assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, visited the picket-line just after it began and addressed the workers. He said they had extensive international solidarity, and Spanish trade unions from UGT and CC.OO have been active in showing support for the Turkish workers. 

IndustriALL's assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, on the picket line. 

Ergin Alşan, general president of Selüloz-Iş said during the demonstration:

“Together with our global union IndustriALL, we will keep fighting for our dignity and fundamental rights until justice is done. We feel that we are not alone. The whole IndustriALL global family is with us, which makes us stronger”.

In a show of global solidarity, José Carlos Ruiz Palacios from FICA-UGT, visited the picket-line on 27 June. FICA-UGT also met with Saica at its headquarters in Spain urging the company to recognize the Turkish union as the legitimate social dialogue partner. Saica claims the dismissals are related to a loss of important customers, but not to trade union membership. The Spanish union also brought the case to the attention of Spanish Ministry of Labour.

José Carlos Ruiz Palacios from FICA-UGT visits the picket line on 27 June

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: 

“As workers mark 57 days of picketing, we strongly urge Saica management to intervene and ensure that fundamental labour rights are respected at its operations in Turkey. It is time to reinstate the six leading union members who were sacked illegally, and recognize our affiliate  Selüloz-İş as the legitatimate bargaining partner. Saica’s behaviour would not be tolerated in Spain and cannot be allowed to continue in Turkey.”