A sufficient majority of the factory’s employees exercised their right to join DISK/Lastik-Is (Petroleum, Chemical and Rubber Industry Workers’ Union of Turkey), and on 22 May the union applied to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services for official certification that Lastik-Is has the right to begin collective bargaining with MTN Plastik.
However, with the Covid-19 crisis, the Turkish government issued a decree to suspend its services of certification and collective bargaining until mid-July. The government suspending fundamental trade union work with organizing, bargaining and striking is similar to the practice during the country’s military coup period in the 1980s.
Instead of opening a dialogue with the union, the company attacked the organizing effort, sacking 26 workers, sending people on unpaid leave, threatening the remaining workers with unpaid leave and dismissal if they refuse to leave the union, and creating a general atmosphere of intimidation.
“This harsh reaction from the company is unacceptable and our fight will continue until justice is received,” says general president of Lastik-Is Alaaddin Sari, who is vice-president of DISK national centre.
MTN Plastik workers are demonstrating at the site for the right to join a union, which is enshrined in Turkish law, international core labour standards, and the supply chain commitments of MTN Plastik’s customers.
On 8 June, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches wrote to MTN Plastik to demand reinstatement of the sacked trade union members, respect for labour rights, and a start to dialogue with Lastik-Is.
“Once the intimidation and defamation against union workers did not work, your management resorted to economic pressures against workers. The very first thing your management did was to misuse the “temporary unpaid leave” practice as a manner of punishment. Thus union members sent into forced unpaid leave, with the consequent financial difficulties this unfair situation has created.”
IndustriALL Global Union expects swift remedial action from MTN Plastik management, and if that does not come, the international union will take the case to the multinational companies that purchase from MTN Plastik.
The factory in the town of Çerkezköy manufactures plastic products for the automobile and household appliance supply chain.
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