Background of Workers’ Resistance against Unionbusting at AVON-Turkey

Avon, the global cosmetic company, has a warehouse in Istanbul, located in the industrial area Gebze. With its more than 200 workers, this warehouse has a critical role within the distribution network of Avon in Turkey. There are two types of workers: Some of them (44 workers) are registered as employees of Avon itself and they are supposed to partake in the main activities. The rest (180 workers) are supposed to do the auxiliary tasks and they are registered as workers of a subcontractor. From 28 December 2015 onwards, Klüh, the German multiservice company, has been operating as the official subcontractor.

Even before Klüh, workers have had serious complaints about the unfavorable working conditions in the warehouse such as;

 

  • Main activities and auxiliary tasks problem: According to the Turkish Labour Code, a company could hire subcontractor workers just for the auxiliary tasks. However, although the company alleges that Klüh workers are used for the auxiliary tasks, practically, there is no such a distinction. Klüh workers are used for the main tasks of the job as well. Moreover, the company administration discriminates in favor of the Avon workers.
  • Compulsory overtime working: On getting the job, workers are forced to sign a declaration saying that they will work overtime. Workers are obliged to work overtime, and who refuses is exposed to mobbing such as being threatened to be fired.
  • OHS violations: Most of the workers suffer from spinal and cervical disc herniation.
  • A low wage policy: Even a ten-year-experienced worker gains only the minimum wage and no further payments such as fuel, clothing, holiday etc. allowances are made to the workers. Even the performance premiums paid beforehand were cancelled after the official raise of the minimum-wage.

 

In addition to these negative working conditions, the new subcontractor, Klüh, urged the workers to sign a new contract which would result in further setbacks in employee personal rights. The new contract,

  • lays down a two-month-length trial period as a condition for all workers no matter how long they have been working in the facility. This condition may cancel out all the vested rights of the workers.
  • grants Klüh the right to transfer workers of this facility to others where Klüh operates as a subcontractor of other companies.

 

Approximately 80 workers, who rejected to sign this new contract, have been exposed to harsh mobbing by Klüh. Thereupon, workers have started to organize under the DGD-SEN, the Union of Storehouse, Entrepot, Ship Construction and Ship Transportation Workers. On May 19th 2016, 8 workers were fired without any declared reason. 6 of them are the members of the union. None of them have received a warning concerning performance or behavior at the workplace and some of them were highly experienced and rewarded because of their performances. From May 23rd 2016 on, they started a resistance at the entrance of the warehouse in order to protest the action of the company with the following demands;

 

  • The fired workers should be hired back;
  • Avon should repeal its contract with Klüh and all workers should be registered as the employees of Avon.
  • Avon, with a protocol, should acknowledge the DGD-SEN

 

The list shows of workers who were fired is as below:

 

NAME JOB SUBCONTRACTOR LENGTH OF

SERVICE

MEMBER OF

THE UNION

Ela Kayaoğlu Ordering and Shipping Klüh 6 months Yes
Aylin Melisa Özkan Ordering and Shipping Klüh 6 months Yes
Emel Eralp Ordering and Shipping Klüh 3 months No
Mehmet Terece Product feeding and Shipping Klüh 8 months Yes
Fatih Dündar Product feeding and Shipping Klüh 8 months Yes
Eylem Görgü Order picking Klüh 10 years Yes
Akın Gerçek Product feeding and Shipping Klüh 5 years Yes
Fatma Çimen Ordering and Shipping Klüh 6 months No

 

 

 

 

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