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Union busting at Turkish auto glass company

21 February, 2024When employees at the Olimpia Auto Glass facilities in Gebze and Ankara exercised their fundamental right to unionize, the employer retaliated by dismissing 45 of these workers. 

After successfully organizing enough workers to reach the legally required majority within the workplace, the workers joined IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Kristal-İş. Subsequently, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security granted an official certificate verifying that Kristal-İş holds the legal majority in the enterprise, thereby recognizing them as a legitimate party for collective bargaining.

Rather than initiating dialogue with the union, Olimpia Glass management took an aggressive stance against union members, subjecting them to punitive measures—including intimidation, threats, and dismissals—for their affiliation with Kristal-İş. This conduct breaches Turkish labor law, along with fundamental international labor standards, including ILO Convention 87.

In reaction, Kristal-İş appealed to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, urging them to intervene and halt the unlawful actions and exploitation of workers at Olimpia Auto Glass. The union voiced this call to action in its statement:

"By completing the membership procedures in 2024, we reached the majority required by the Law. This is the proof that the Olimpia workers now have an authorized union. In the continuation of this determination, we, with 60 years of experience, believed that we would carry out this process in democratic maturity. However, what happened in the factories shortly after our application caused serious damage to this belief. In the past 1 week, the employer and employers' representatives put systematic pressure on the workers and took action to discourage the workers from union membership”. 

Kristal-İş continues to picketing in front of the plants of Olimpia Auto Glass with a solidarity appeal:

“We convey our call for solidarity to sister unions, confederations, international labor unions and federations. Stand in solidarity with Kristal-İş against the lawlessness created at Olimpia Auto Cam. Let's protect the Olympia workers, workers' rights and freedoms with all our organized power”.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan calls the situation unacceptable and urges Olimpia Auto Glass to stop the intimidation, reinstate the dismissed union members and enter into dialogue with Kristal-İş.

“We are appalled by this aggressive behaviour; punishing workers for joining a union. Olimpia Auto Glass must take immediate corrective measures, and that, as a result, it will not be necessary for IndustriALL to take further action, particularly with the main customers of Olimpia in automotive, equipment and machinery sectors to conduct due diligence in the company’s operations. We will continue to campaign until justice is served.”

Olimpia manufactures original parts for the automotive industry, as well as equivalent parts for the replacement market with commercial relations with the world’s leading brands in more than 40 countries, throughout 5 continents.