Iron company forces workers out of union

Employers and the yellow union in Yolbulan Inc., an iron and steel factory in Turkey’s Karabük, attempt to threaten workers to resign from a progressive union
Monday, 27 August 2018 21:04

Yellow union and the employers at Yolbulan Inc. in Turkey’s Karabük city, an iron and steel company active for 40 years, cooperate to force workers to leave the progressive union and to join with the yellow union.

Workers at the Yolbulan iron factory had started to unionise in the United Metalworkers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İş) connected to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) in Turkey. Once constituting the majority, Birleşik Metal-İş applied to the Ministry of Labour for authorisation in the factory. The employers acted on this to force and threaten the workers into resigning from Birleşik Metal-İş, and joining with the Steel Industry Workers’ Union (Çelik-İş), a yellow union in cooperation with the employers.

Some tapes involving dialogues of workers and directors reveal the despotism of the employers over workers.

In one of the tapes, a director tells a worker unionised in Birleşik Metal-İş to resign from the union in 15 or 20 minutes, otherwise, the worker would be fired – but the worker insists that he would not leave the union and abandon his co-workers.

In another tape, a director says to a worker that the unionised in Birleşik Metal-İş would be fired, and “because he is fond of the worker”, he tells the worker to quit Birleşik Metal-İş, while also lying to him that most of the workers unionised in Birleşik Metal-İş have already quit the union. The worker, however, resists and considers it a “mistake” to leave the union.

In a third tape, a director again threatens a worker, and tells him that “only the workers would lose” from that point, while the worker says: “The genie is out of the bottle now.” The worker also reminds the director that it was him, the director, who used to tell the workers to seek their rights, and to the steering attempts of the director, he says: “Workers will not lose. First, the workers will win … I’ve looked up the Çelik-İş union, and they are mates with Yolbulan. They will never seek our rights.”

Birleşik Metal-İş, on the other hand, issued a press release, and stated that Yolbulan and the yellow union were committing a crime by attempting to prevent workers from exercising their right to unionise. Declaring that they would utilise every means to have the perpetrators punished, Birleşik Metal-İş said that they would be with the workers until the end, and that they would be hard on the heels of those who attacked the free will of the workers.