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DHL’s ‘catalogue of shame’ is revealed today
2 November 2012
Global union the ITF is confronting DHL with what it calls ‘a catalogue of shame’ today by releasing evidence that the company is allowing its Turkish subsidiary to get away with illegal and punitive anti-union, anti-worker campaigns. To back up its allegations against the logistics giant, the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) is unveiling the results of an investigation by respected US academic Professor John Logan which can be seen here.
The report Aggressive and unlawful: a report into Deutsche Post DHL operations in Turkey, which is based on one-to-one interviews with workers, union officials, labour lawyers, parliamentarians, journalists, academics and others reveals a well coordinated and sophisticated anti-union campaign involving management at the highest levels. It charges the instigators with the use of unfair and illegal sackings, threats and intimidation to create a climate of fear within the company. Despite this, the report finds, the parent company, Bonn-based Deutsche Post DHL, has tried to discredit allegations of abuses, despite compelling evidence from several sources.
ITF organising globally coordinator Ingo Marowsky commented: “This report provides the ‘smoking gun’ that DHL has long denied existed. The fact is that DHL in Turkey is out of control, with responsibility for that going right to the top of Deutsche Post DHL.”
He continued: “We and our colleagues in UNI Global Union have raised this scandal face to face with DHL management in Bonn and received nothing but platitudes, excuses and claims that there is no proof. Well, DHL, here’s the proof, what are you going to do now? Nothing less than a clean up and the reinstatement of these illegally sacked workers will do.”
The ITF and its fellow global union UNI have long challenged Deutsche Post DHL’s commitment to the rights of its employees and its own claimed corporate social responsibilities. Their campaign has included targeting the company’s annual general meetings with evidence of serious wrongdoing being carried out in several countries, including as recently as May this year (see). The two organisations have repeatedly called on DHL to enter into a global framework agreement, a negotiated ‘bill of rights’ that would sets out minimum protections and trade union rights for all DHL workers.
Germany’s powerful ver.di union has publicly called on Deutsche Post DHL to honour the right of workers at its subsidiary in Turkey to join a trade union, and on 3 November is sending a six-strong top level delegation to investigate the situation there.
A further delegation will arrive in Turkey on 9 November made up of Eduardo Chagas, ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) general secretary and members of the European Parliament.
Professor Logan’s report notes that:
For well over a year, almost 1500 workers and about 1000 subcontracted employees who work at DHL Turkey’s supply chain division have been attempting to form a union. In response, the company has apparently fired several workers for union activities and engaged in a host of other aggressive and illegal anti-union actions. This report attempts to uncover exactly what has happened at DHL Turkey and examine whether the company’s actions are consistent with the principles contained in the company’s Corporate Responsibility Code, its Code of Conduct and the external labor standards that it has embraced.
Much of the evidence for this report is based on extensive interviews with DHL Logistics workers in Istanbul and Ankara. During the period September 10-17, I conducted multiple interviews with current and former DHL employees (i.e., those fired, allegedly for union activities) and sub-contracted workers at DHL Logistics, officials from Tumtis (Turkish transport workers union), officials form Turkey’s main labor federations, labor lawyers, journalists, academics, members of the Turkish Parliament and others. These interviews help illuminate exactly what is happening during the ongoing attempt by DHL Turkey workers to form a union, which has to date resulted in the sacking of over 21 workers since April 2011.
The interviews with DHL Logistics workers have uncovered multiple examples of anti-union activities by management. Every single interviewee describes instances of anti-union behavior – some legal under Turkish law, other clearly illegal – that he or she had either experienced firsthand or witnessed directly. But this is not simply a “little local difficulty.” These activities form part of a sustained and coordinated strategy to limit workers’ freedom of association, and are not simply the rogue behavior of a few over-zealous local managers.
This is the executive summary of the report
For well over a year, workers at DHL Logistics in Turkey have been attempting to form a union. In response, management has apparently fired workers for union activities and engaged in a variety of other aggressive and illegal anti-union actions.
DHL’s anti-union tactics have included the following:
1. At least twenty-one terminations, apparently for union membership, under the pretext of “poor performance,” safety violations, or other vague violations of company policy.
2. Management pressure on workers, either through threats of dismissal or offers of financial incentives, to sign notarized letters resigning from the union.
3. Direct warnings given to employees by management that becoming unionized would harm the company and harm their personal careers at DHL.
4. Explicit anti-union threats by management intended to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation within the workplace.
5. Derogatory statements about the union made directly to the workers, including suggestions that the union has links to a known terrorist organization.
6. Instances of management preventing DHL Logistics workers from talking to union officials during break times and outside of workplace premises.
7. Management discrimination against workers because they had joined the union.
8. Management-conducted “training sessions” warning workers against joining the union.
9. Surveillance of picket lines and discrimination against workers who visit the picket lines.
10. Alterations to the work environment designed to prevent workers from communicating with union officials and stop workers from talking to one another about the union.
These anti-union activities form part of a sustained and coordinated strategy to limit workers’ freedom of association, and are not simply the “individual erratic behaviour” of a few over-zealous local managers. Rather than make a good faith effort to remedy these violations, however, Deutsche Post DHL has attempted to discredit allegations of labor rights abuses, even in the face of compelling evidence from several sources.
Professor John Logan, the report’s author, is director and professor of labour studies at San Francisco State University, and a senior labour policy specialist at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center.
There is a selection of photos of the picket lines in Turkey and related international solidarity visits and actions here. Please feel free to use them gratis. Copyright is waived on them all for your use.
For more details please contact:
Sam Dawson, ITF press officer. Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ingo Marowsky, ITF global organising coordinator, who is a native German speaker. Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9248. Email: email@example.com
Emel Turker, Tumtis international relations and press officer. Tel: +90 555 634 57 17. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ver.di press office, for information about the ver.di visit to Turkey. Tel: +49-6956-11011. Email: email@example.com
Aggressive and unlawful: a report into Deutsche Post DHL operations in Turkey
A report by a respected US academic commissioned by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has laid out evidence that since, early 2011 when 2,500 workers and subcontracted workers at DHL Turkey chose to be represented by a trade union, the company has been guilty of a concerted, punitive and at times illegal campaign against them.
“Every single interviewee describes instances of anti-union behaviour – some legal under Turkish law, other clearly illegal – that he or she had either experienced firsthand or witnessed directly.”
Professor John Logan, Aggressive and unlawful: a report into Deutsche Post DHL
The report is based on one-to-one interviews with existing and dismissed workers, union officials, labour lawyers, parliamentarians, journalists, academics and others. Using the evidence gathered it charges DHL management with (among other practices):
• Sacking at least twenty one people since April 2011, apparently for union membership, under pretexts such as poor performance or refusing overtime – despite records proving otherwise. All eight of the sackings that have so far been challenged in the courts have been found to be unfair
• Putting pressure on workers, either through threats of dismissal or offers of financial incentives, to sign notarised letters resigning from the union
• Warning employees that becoming unionised would harm their careers at DHL and harm the company
• Making threats intended to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation
• Claiming the union chosen by the workers (Tumtis) is linked to terrorists
• Preventing staff from talking to their union officials during breaks and outside work
• Discriminating against workers who have joined the union.
• Running so-called ‘training sessions’ warning workers against joining the union
• Conducting surveillance of picket lines, and discriminating against workers who visit them
• Physically changing the work environment to prevent workers from communicating with union officials and to stop workers from talking to one another about the union
“(DHL) management said at the meetings: ‘Either you are with us or against us, and if you are against us, you will be fired.’”
DHL employee, Kirac, Istanbul
Who ordered this victimisation?
DHL Turkey parent Deutsche Post DHL has claimed that the shocking tactics employed in Turkey never happened. The ITF is presenting them with this report to make clear that this campaign of intimidation exists, is provable, and cannot be explained away as a ‘local problem’. National managers have reported in conversations with Tumtis officials that they are acting directly on the orders of executives at Deutsche Post DHL in Bonn. For example, in conversations in July and August 2012 between the president of Tumtis, Kenan Ozturk, and the human resources director for DHL Turkey, Riza Balta, Ozturk was told that Bonn did not want a union at DHL Turkey, and that Balta intended to implement that policy.
About the report
The report can be seen in full here. Its author, Professor John Logan, is director and professor of labour studies at San Francisco State University, and a senior labor policy specialist at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center.
What must Deutsche Post DHL do now?
The ITF believes that the company must now act to remedy the situation in its Turkish operations by reinstating the sacked workers, ending the campaign of intimidation and talking to the workers and their trade union of choice, Tumtis. The ITF and its sister union organisation UNI Global Union want Deutsche Post DHL to sign a global framework agreement, a negotiated ‘bill of rights’ that would sets out minimum protections and trade union rights for all DHL workers, wherever they are in the world.
Find out more: www.respectatdhlturkey.org
For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
International Transport Workers' Federation - ITF:
ITF House, 49 - 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
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