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Union busting at DESA in Turkey soars

6 December, 2012TAKE ACTION in support of members of the Leather and Shoe Workers’ Union (Deri-Is) facing systematic pressure and discrimination at DESA’s leather factories in Turkey.

DESA, producing for many well-known brands such as Prada, Gucci, Debenhams, Whistless, Marks and Spencer, is one of the leading exporting companies in the leather sector in Turkey with three factories in Istanbul, Duzce and Corlu employing around 2,000 workers.

Deri-Is and its members have faced increasing and systematic discrimination by DESA since the union established a presence at the company’s factories in 2008.

In support of Deri-Is, IndustriALL Global Union and European Trade Union are calling for your messages to be sent from this web page to DESA demanding freedom of association and an end to union busting.

Since 2008, over 50 cases of unfair dismissals and mobbing were brought to the legal courts, and DESA has lost the majority of them and been described by the courts as anti-union.

DESA has faced an international campaign led by the then ITGLWF to respect labour rights at its plants. As a consequence of the campaign and court decisions, in August 2009 the parties signed a protocol to recognize each other, and DESA apparently accepted to respect labour rights. Following the protocol, DESA regained orders from customers. However DESA management has not fully complied with the protocol and has continued its anti-union actions.

DESA management uses various methods of mobbing toward union members to force them to quit from union membership and leave their jobs voluntarily with some incentives. The most frequent form of mobbing has been performance measurement procedures that discriminate against union members by forcing them to sign a document without their consent. When union members refused to sign these documents by protesting discriminatory policies of the management, union members received warning letters from DESA threatening dismissal. Between January and April this year, 25 union members received 111 warning letters.

Managers, line chiefs and the head of security regularly provoke union members by insulting and shouting them. The union members have filed complaints at local courts against the discriminatory actions. While some members have won cases, some of the union members have began to suffer from psychological illnesses.

Recently, company managers banned the wearing of pull-overs inside the plant, claiming that workers may steal some of the products. In addition, union members are put in the same department so as to be isolated from other workers so that union membership cannot be expanded.

“This long-standing union-busting story must end,” said IndustriALL Global Union’s Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan and Luc Triangle, Deputy General Secretary of IndustriAll Europe. “DESA has not been responsive to all our attempts to solve the problem through dialogue. We now call all our affiliates and allies to join our campaign so that DESA workers can freely enjoy their fundamental rights.”

Please use the email petition on this web page to send your message to the DESA management calling for the right to freedom of association and an end to union busting.