Global unions warn Hak-İş over union-busting complicity

Global union federations the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and Uni Global Union have warned Turkish trade union confederation Hak-İş that it is in danger of being used by DHL Turkey as a pawn in a company attempt to prevent workers in the company having a union voice.

The two global unions issued the warning following a serious discussion of the grave concerns of the international trade union movement expressed at the meeting of the Council of Global Unions this week following reports of company attempts to forcibly recruit members into Taşıma-İş, a new union set up by Hak-İş. The workers who are being targeted – apparently with the full compliance of DHL Turkey management – are members of the TÜMTİS union, which has fought a long and hard campaign for lawful unionisation at DHL in Turkey*.

Writing to Mahmut Arslan, Hak-İş president, the general secretaries of the ITF and UNI global union state:

Yesterday at a meeting of the Council of Global Unions in Nyon, Swizerland, there was a detailed discussion on the trade union rights situation in Turkey. Representatives of the ITUC, TUAC, and the Global Union Federations attended.

During the discussions it became clear that Hak-İş wrote on 18th January to several global unions about conflicts with Turk- İş union affiliates. Amongst other cases, these letters mentioned the TÜMTİS campaign at DHL.

Participants at the meeting were already aware of this joint ITF and UNI campaign in defence of 23 members of the ITF’s affiliate TÜMTİS, who were dismissed as a result of their trade union activities. DHL has mounted an anti-union campaign against these workers and has blocked TÜMTİS’s organising efforts. Since July ITF and UNI have been working with the union, which is a longstanding affiliate of the ITF, to resolve the situation and guarantee workers’ rights.

However, and as I am sure you know - DHL Turkey is exerting increasing pressure on its workers to join Taşıma-İş, the transport union you mention in your letter. This union was only set up by Hak-İş on 5th December, and is due to be founded to join the Hak-İş confederation at a congress on 27th January 2013.

The situation you describe in your letter is far from the reality we have observed. DHL workers say that, under the coordination of the HR manager, warehouse and other managers are taking them by car and minibus to Hak-İş offices. TÜMTİS officials also witnessed seven workers being driven by Hayri Guner, manager of DHL’s Bayrampasa Warehouse, to Hak-İş offices on the morning of 11th January 2013. Workers say that managers threaten them in the evenings as they are about to leave the warehouses by demanding that either they join Taşıma-İş or do not return to work the next morning.

This is an unlawful anti-union employer campaign that contradicts and undermines Deutsche Post DHL's commitments to uphold the ILO Conventions on labour rights and the principles of the UN Global Compact as well as the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

Even the innocent involvement of any union organisation in such employer-sponsored action would undermine its essential credibility as a real union. The apparent and visible complicity of Hak-İş in accepting the membership of the intimidated workers casts serious doubt on its ability to act as an authentic representative of workers’ rights. It also undermines the credibility of claims made in your letter of 18th January, relating to other situations where you face conflict with other unions.

The CGU meeting concurred that this was a serious incident that warranted immediate action to prevent the discrediting of organisations involved with Hak-İş – and more seriously, to prevent it impacting on the whole of the global union family in Turkey.

As a result, UNI, the ITF and the undersigned global union organisations, all of whom are actively supporting the UNI/ITF campaign, request formally that Hak-İş immediately cease to collaborate in this anti-union campaign; we look forward to receiving such assurances at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

David Cockroft, General Secretary, ITF Stephen Cotton, Acting General Secretary, ITF Philip Jennings, General Secretary, UNI Global Union

Supported by:
Jyrki Raina, General Secretary, IndustriALL Ron Oswald, General Secretary, IUF Ambet Yuson, General Secretary, BWI Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary, PSI


*For more details please see

For more details please contact: Sam Dawson, ITF press officer.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email:

Richard Elliott, UNI Global Union Director of Communications Tel: +41 22 365 21 30. Email: