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Turkey: Dismissed Cargill factory workers continue to protest for reinstatement after court ruling confirms they were unfairly dismissed as a result of their union activities; Incl. co. statement

Source: International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

In August 2018, 14 members of the union Tekgida-İş were dismissed from their jobs at a Cargill corn-milling factory in Bursa-Orhangazi, Turkey. Since, the affected union members have been continually protesting their dismissal, which they say was due to their union activities, and demanding reinstatement. The dismissals followed Tekgida-İş' application to the Turkish Labour Ministry for bargaining unit status and a warning from management that company rules would change unfavourably for employees if the union received formal bargaining status.

Cargill responded to these allegations, in a statement denying that union membership was taken into consideration in selecting workers for dismissal. It said that a workforce reduction was made to cut costs following a quota reduction imposed by the Turkish government. In an open letter to Cargill from the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) - of which Tekgida-İş is an affiliate - IUF disputes Cargill's explanation and states that only four of the dismissed workers were in a department directly impacted by the quota reduction. Both Cargill's statement and the IUF letter are linked below.

In July 2019, a court ruling in Turkey determined that the affected workers were dismissed as a consequence of their union activities, which Cargill has since appealed. In August 2019, to mark 500 days since their dismissal, 'the Cargill 14' gathered with other trade unionists and supporters to protest in front of Cargill's Turkish headquarters. 

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Article
30 August 2019

Turkey: Cargill trade unionists mark 500th day of dismissal with demonstration at company’s headquarters

Author: Bianet

"Cargill Workers' Resistance on 500th Day: 'When We Win, the Working Class will Win"", 30 August 2019

The resistance of Cargill workers who were dismissed for being members of a union continues...

...[the] 14 workers...began a sit-in in front of the company's headquarters in...İstanbul, on August 20. The workers, who have been waiting there for 24 hours, sleep in sleeping bags, on the mats they laid on the ground.

Tekgıda-İş Union Organization Officer Suat Karlıkaya [said]..."The workers would either go and work in another factory, and when they sought their rights there they would be dismissed again, or they would resist here and fight where they were wronged. We decided on a joint fight...We have only one demand, to start work."

"The expert witness, who submitted an opinion to the court, wrote a report that the workers had been dismissed due to trade union activities, not because of the 'quotas' as the employer claimed. And the court followed that report, ruling that we are right. "The court ruled for the workers' return to work and for union compensation. Workers earned compensation starting from 4 net 12 brutes. But our request is to be reinstated...The employer has appealed the decision. We will continue our struggle..."...

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Article
30 August 2019

Turkey: Protesters mark 500 days since dismissal of trade unionists at Cargill factory

Author: The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

"#TheCargill14 take their fight for reinstatement to Cargill’s Turkish head office", 30 August 2019

To mark 500 days of their ongoing struggle, the Cargill 14 gathered with other trade unionists and supporters in front of Cargill's Turkish headquarters in Istanbul on August 30...

...This demonstration follows a court ruling in July 2019 that they were all dismissed solely as a consequence of their union activity...Cargill has appealed the decision and workers at Cargill Turkey are still waiting for justice to be delivered...

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Article
11 July 2019

Turkey: Local court determines workers at Cargill factory were dismissed for their union activity

Author: The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

"Court confirms #TheCargill14 were fired for forming a union", 11 July 2019

A local Turkish court determined on July 10, 2019 that workers at Cargill's Bursa-Orhangazi factory were dismissed in April 2018 solely as a consequence of their union activity. The expert report, which informed the court's decision, confirmed that the company's justifications for dismissal were groundless. The workers were fired because they had joined Tekgida-Is.

Despite this court finding, Turkish law does permit employers under these circumstances to offer compensation as an alternative to reinstatement. Since April 2018, the workers unfairly dismissed by Cargill have marched, picketed and rallied to demand their full reinstatement with the support of the IUF, Tekgida-Is, and Cargill unions around the world...

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Item
10 April 2019

Turkey: Cargill responds to alleged 'unfair' dismissal of union members

Author: Cargill

"Cargill’s response to allegations of unfair labour practice towards 14 employees at its Orhangazi plant", 10 April 2019

The starch based sugar industry in Turkey is governed by a national quota system… In March 2018, a change to the law meant that Cargill’s annual quota was reduced from 10%...to 5%...the quota has been further reduced to 2.5%.

As a result…Cargill’s business in Turkey has had to take immediate measures to ensure that it can remain a viable business in the long term in the country. After analysing the Orhangazi facility’s capacity utilization, efficiency and sweetener production operations, the business carried out a mitigation plan across its Turkish operations.  The cost cutting measures put in place…led to a reduction in force of 16 positions at the Orhangazi plant in April 2018.

The selection process was carried out in accordance with Turkish law, and Turkish law prohibits terminating employment relations on the basis of union membership…Cargill did not take into consideration union membership in making selection decisions…

...Turkish law does not permit Cargill to collect and process the names of any employees who might be union members.  Employees were not singled out because they belonged, or intended to join a union, nor was union membership or any other form of activity taken into consideration during the process…Cargill respects the rights of its employees to belong to unions of their choice…

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Article
5 February 2019

Turkey: Unions globally demand the reinstatement of dismissed Cargill factory workers

Author: International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

"Open Letter to Cargill, Incorporated", 5 February 2019

...Two days after Tekgida-İş had applied...for bargaining unit status in March 2018, the then wet mill manager (now production manager) at Bursa-Orhangazi informed workers that there is no need for a union in Cargill. He warned that if the union gets formal bargaining unit status, work rules in the company would change in a way unfavourable to employees. Fourteen dismissals of Tekgida-İş union members in Bursa-Orhangazi then followed...

...the company has attributed these...dismissals to the government imposed sugar based starch/high fructose corn syrup quota reduction. However, only 4 of the dismissed workers were in a department directly impacted by the quota reduction. It is also customary practice in Turkey...that a company seeks volunteers for redundancies before any layoffs. This did not happen in the case of the 14 dismissed workers. Additionally, Cargill Turkey has hired two ISS contract workers instead of recalling 2 of the dismissed 14 workers who were supposedly made redundant. 1 additional worker has also been recalled from retirement...

The 14 dismissals follow those of seven other workers dismissed by Cargill management at the BursaOrhangazi factory in 2012, 2014 and 2015...as a consequence of their union activity. The Turkish Supreme Court found that Cargill workers had been unfairly dismissed in...these 7 incidences...

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Article
16 July 2018

Turkey: Fourteen Cargill factory workers dismissed following attempts to unionise

Author: International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

"Stop the attack on rights at Cargill Turkey - Reinstate #TheCargill14 now!", 16 July 2018

Fourteen union activists have been continually protesting after being...dismissed from their jobs on April 17, 2018 while organizing a union at Cargill-Turkey's corn-milling facility in Bursa-Orhangazi.

...In 2015, a court ruled that workers were unfairly dismissed for trying to organize a union at the same plant...however...as an alternative to reinstating workers who are sacked for forming or joining a union, companies can pay compensation. Cargill opted to pay for its human rights violations rather than reinstate the...workers...The company...has failed to take any action to remedy the abuses...

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