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

09 September 2019 15:55

Striking AGAC-IS members against Kronospan in 2015 

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 Kronospan Turkey which was previously known as SFC Integrated Wood Products.

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

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.

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

Following the decision by the Turkish Supreme Court, the union submitted a letter to the company to renew negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.