Supreme Court affirms AGAC-IS’ right to collective bargaining at SFC

01 February 2019 06:38

 

The Turkish Supreme Court has delivered a significant court victory to Turkish Wood and Paper Industry Workers Union AGAC-IS, affirming their right to bargain collectively with SFC Integrated Wood Products (SFC). SFC is owned by Austria-based multinational Kronospan, which operates in more than 30 countries.

“The right to collective bargaining is a fundamental right that all workers should enjoy,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “By challenging SFC’s anti-union activities in the courts, AGAC-IS have secured that again right for workers at SFC.”

In 2012 the union initiated an organising campaign and by 2013 a majority of the workers had joined the union, the requirement under the Turkish Labour Code to apply to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for collective bargaining.

SFC tried to file a case to prevent union formation; however, in August 2014 the court rejected their arguments and AGAC-IS immediately began the collective bargaining process. SFC’s management rebuffed the union’s demands for decent wages, and on 27 January 2015, the workers took strike action to defend their right to organise. Ambet Yuson met with union leaders in February to evaluate the situation, and a BWI mission was conducted in April 2015 to support striking workers.

Kronospan applied intense pressure on the striking workers to renounce their union membership resulting in workers returning to work after four months. The company later laid off 49 union members without justification, preventing from reaching the membership threshold required to re-apply for collective bargaining.

AGAC-IS took to the courts to challenge the Ministry’s refusal to grant them bargaining status, proving that the June 2015 layoffs were without justification. In 2017 a local labour court decided in the union’s favour, and the decision has just been affirmed by the Supreme Court, enabling AGAC-IS to again engage in collective bargaining.