27 May 2010, Thursday

ORGANIZING IN UPS

Global delivery unions support the TÜMTİS struggle

UPS’ anti-union campaign against TÜMTİS continues, as global delivery unions support the TÜMTİS struggle.

MOLLY MCGRATH molly@emekdunyasi.net

Amidst yesterday’s general strike actions by Turkish unions, and the TEKEL workers’ occupation of their company’s headquarters this week, TÜMTİS, Turkey’s road transport union, is still fighting a vicious anti-union campaign by UPS to destroy their members’ morale.

The latest UPS worker was fired May 25, and 11 subcontracted workers were fired on May 21.  TÜMTİS members are now being forced to resign their membership.

Mr. M. Haluk Ündeğer, long-time CEO of UPS’s agency in Turkey, discovered on April 13th that UPS workers were signing up for union membership.  Since, UPS and its subcontractors have made firings of groups of workers on an average of every 2 to 3 days.  At present, 68 TÜMTIS members have lost their jobs: 56 in Istanbul, 9 in Izmir and 3 in Ankara.

On May 3, two days after the historic celebration of International Workers Day in Taksim Square in Turkey, UPS fired 27 workers in Istanbul.  Workers and their family members are threatened and harassed to keep them from joining the union.  30 workers who protested firings outside one of UPS’ Istanbul Transfer Centers were taken in for questioning by police.

Last week, the International Transport Federation (ITF), with another global union, Union Network International (UNI), held a “Global Delivery Meeting” in London. TÜMTIS’ struggle was a major discussion among the participants from 41 unions in 29 countries, with members in 4 major global logistics companies: UPS, DHL, Fed Ex, and TNT.

With the ITF and UNI, the unions issued a resolution condemning UPS and Mr. Ündeğer’s anti-union campaign in Turkey. These unions are making high-level union interventions regarding TÜMTIS’s case, at the UPS world headquarters in the USA, and at the European UPS Employees’ Forum. Unions will also send an international delegation to TÜMTIS’s picket line in Istanbul as soon as possible.

TÜMTİS’s persistence, with these international solidarity efforts, may be enough stop UPS’ anti-union campaign in Turkey, but it hasn’t yet. The questions remains whether UPS workers, who make between about 500-750TL per month (316-474USD), will be allowed to exercise their legal right to join the union of their choice.

The UPS campaign is a critical moment for unions in Turkey. If the union succeeds, it will create space for workers from MNG/FedEx, TNT, DHL and other large delivery firms to organize with TÜMTIS as well.

İstanbul - Labour World

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