Turkey: Subcontracted Euroserve workers allege anti-union practices at Philip Morris supplier; incl. co. responses
In 2022, it was reported that subcontracted workers at a factory supplying Philip Morris International (PMI) in Izmir, Turkey, hired by Euroserve, were denied the rights and benefits permanent workers at the factory received, despite the same workload. The workers allege they receive lower pay, and are denied holidays, promotion rights, and bonuses.
It was also reported that following organising efforts by subcontracted Euroserve workers in August 2022, during which the majority of Euroserve workers became members of the DİSK affiliated union Gıda-İş Union, four members were relocated to other workplaces. Workers at the factory who protested the exile of these workers were allegedly dismissed, while workers at the factory also faced intensified pressure from supervisors and managers to not join the union, or they would face dismissal. Twenty workers were reportedly forced to end their union membership due to the pressure faced. Workers also alleged that overtime practices increased during this period.
It is reported that approximately 120 workers have now been dismissed, and over 100 workers received warnings by phone call and messages from their supervisor not to come to work.
The union demands equal pay between permanent and contracted workers, a pay rise that meets workers’ living standards, the reinstatement of workers who were dismissed due to their unionising efforts, and engagement from both employers in collective bargaining according to national and international standards. Despite efforts to engage with the headquarters of Philip Morris and Euroserve, the union has allegedly not yet received a response.
In November 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited PMI, Compass Group (the parent company of Euroserve), and Euroserve to respond.
PMI said any request to reinstate Euroserve workers should be directed to Euroserve. The company also stated that the employees were terminated due to participation in illegal activity, and that the protests were not peaceful or legal under Turkish law. According to PMI, the union is not legally authorised to represent the workers.
Euroserve said the union did not have the legal right to represent workers, and rejected the allegation it had forced workers to end their union membership. The company also stated its employees were managed under Euroserve's terms and conditions, including salary and benefits, and that the employees performed different roles to the factory's employees, related to roles involving catering and cleaning. Compass also directed the Resource Centre to Euroserve's response rather than providing their own response to the allegations.
In rejoinders to PMI and Euroserve’s responses, Gıda-İş claimed both companies’ responses did not reflect the reality on the ground.
In its rejoinder to Euroserve, Gıda-İş refuted claims from the company including: Euroserve’s claim that its workers were employed in different roles to the factory workers, stating that some workers were employed directly in production; Euroserve stating it upholds ILO conventions, despite failing to consult with Gıda-İş; Euroserve’s denial of union-busting, identifying Euroserve officials who forced workers to resign from the union; Euroserve’s claim it engaged with unions, despite the fact no Euroserve workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements or registered as union members; Euroserve’s claim it met with workers regularly, reporting that the company never met with workers, elected worker representatives or the union.
Euroserve did not respond.
In its rejoinder to PMI, Gıda-İş refuted claims from the company, including: PMI’s claim the issues should be raised with Euroserve, despite the dismissed workers having worked ‘only and exclusively’ at the PMI factory, and receiving instruction from PMI; PMI’s claim it has no knowledge of workers’ trade union membership status, despite managers allegedly conducting interviews to ascertain which workers were trade union members and involved in recruitment; PMI’s claim workers were not targeted for union membership, despite all four workers transferred from the factory being trade union representatives; PMI’s claim the workers engaged in illegal activity, despite no evidence supporting this; PMI referring to Turkish trade union laws despite these laws contradicting ILO conventions.
In response, PMI stated that the workers were employed via a third-party company, and thus enquires should not be directed to PMI, but to Euroserve.