Avon must stop union-busting now / LabourStart Campaign

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AVON, the global cosmetic company, has a warehouse located in the Gebze industrial zone, on the outskirts of Istanbul. With 223 workers, this warehouse plays a critical role within the distribution network of AVON in Turkey. 58 workers are registered as AVON employees and 165 workers are registered as subcontractor (Klüh) employees. Workers have had serious complaints about the unfavorable working conditions in the warehouse, such as heavy compulsory regular overtime work, occupational health and safety violations, and a low wage policy. The vast majority of the workers are women, and they have had particular complaints about gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Worse yet, as soon as the German multiservice company Klüh started to operate as the official subcontractor on December 28th 2015, workers were urged to sign new contracts which would further deteriorate their working conditions and personal rights. Workers who refused to sign the new contracts have been exposed to bullying by Klüh. Consequently, workers have started to organize under the Warehouse, Storehouse, Ship Building and Naval Transportation Workers’ Union: DGD-Sen. On May 19th 2016, 5 female and 3 male workers were fired without any declared reason. 6 of the fired workers are members of the DGD-Sen Union. They have been protesting at the gates of the warehouse since May 23rd 2016, with banners saying “Our beauty comes from our strength, our strength from resistance” and “Wipe off your lipstick, raise your voice”.

Workers demand that AVON hire back the fired workers, repeal the contract with Klüh, register all warehouse workers as permanent AVON employees, and recognize the DGD-Sen Union as the legal representative of workers. Further, AVON must draw up a protocol with DGD-Sen to provide reasonable wages, hours, benefits and working conditions, and a woman-friendly and harassment-free workplace.
As of today, there is no resolution to this case.

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To White Collars of Avon

 To White Collars of Avon

Dear white collar friend, do you remember the joke of the gatekeeper? If you don’t know, let me tell; if you know I’m sorry for telling again.

One day, the state decides to employ a gatekeeper to watch over a wide and empty terrain. And later, in case essential instructions are not given to the gatekeeper he will not work, two directors were employed. Afterwards,it was thought that what if these three don’t work well and two more controllers were employed. But it was not enough, for the coordination of all these works, one general coordinator and two assistants were employed. Then a economical crisis occured in the country and for the sake of austerity the gatekeeper were fired.

Don’t take seriously that I’ve called you white collar. We are not all that different, apart from our collars.If I don’t work at warehouse, your job is at the office has no meaning. Neither my job at the warehouse, if you don’t work at office. If there is no me and you, there is no Avon. Without us, businesses can’t be carried on. But as you know, both of us are treated as the gatekeeper in the joke. Although the works at Avon can be carried without the them, a handful of executives of Avon play as if we exist out of respect to them

We as warehouse workers decided to put an end to this farce. We have laughed enough to black comedy jokes. Shall we not smile by taking more share fort he value we create?

We as DGD-Sen, the union of warehouse workers, have been in a resistance for 11 days. We expect you to support us. We stand with you for your right to be unionized, for you to have more wage, more leave of absence, more warranted job contract.

Let’s act with solidarity. Let’s act with solidarity not be the gatekeeper mentioned, but gatekeepers of each others’ acquisitions.

 

With regards


DGD-SEN

The Warehouse, Storehouse, Ship Building and Naval Transportation Workers’ Union

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