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Justice for Crown Workers in Turkey & Canada

crown_iconInternational campaigns by Industriall and IUF for basic rights of the workers at the operations of Crown Holdings Inc. in Turkey and Canada

DİSK/ Birleşik Metal-İş and North American USW are campaigning to stop Crown Holding’s attacks against workers with the support of IndustriALL and IUF

Crown Holdings, is one of the biggest metal container companies in the world producing cans for beverage and food products in 149 countries. Despite almost doubling profits in 2012 the company prefers to race for bigger profits at any cost including at the expense of its own workers who build its wealth.

Workers of Crown Bevcan in Turkey continue to be denied their right to freely join a union of their choice and have the union represent them in the major can supplier to Coca-Cola Icecek (CCI), Coca-Cola’s Turkish and international bottler. Despite clear majority representation formally recognized by the local labour court the union continues to face obstruction from Crown Bevcan. Neither CCI nor The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) seem willing or able to meaningfully use the clear leverage they have on this key supplier to change this classic human rights “justice delayed, justice denied” situation.

Birlesik Metal-Is has been organized at two Crown Bevcan plants for almost 2 years and was recognized as the bargaining union by the Labour Ministry in November 2012. This decision of the Labour Ministry was challenged by Crown Bevcan in the local labour court. That court subsequently upheld the Ministry decision. Crown Bevcan then chose to begin what is likely to be a long-running, expensive and complex legal process exclusively intended to continue to deny these workers their internationally recognized human rights to a union and collective bargaining.

At the beginning of June 2012 the local court granted Birlesik Metal-Is the necessary status to bargain for the workers at Bevcan Crown. The hearing accepted a Labour Ministry appointed “expert’s assessment” that the union fully met the required membership criteria. Crown Bevcan, desperate to avoid their accessing their rights workers has now appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

This comes on the back of a recent history of repression of union rights at Crown Bevcan. In January 2012, management challenged the union when it registered to begin collective bargaining negotiations. This included threats against workers requiring them to resign if they chose union membership.

IUF challenged major customers of Crown in the brewery sector since there have been clear violations of fundamental rights in the company’s operations in Turkey.

The Crown Bevcan case in Turkey raises serious doubts about both CCI and TCCC’s good-faith implementation of their own supplier guidelines as well as their respect for their international responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies.

During recent negotiations of the new collective agreement between Crown and USW Local 9176 in Toronto, Ontario, the company arrogantly demanded to impose a two-tier wage schedule, remove a cost-of-living allowance, provide only minimal wage increases, and keep an already nine-year freeze on pensions. The plant in Weston, Toronto produces daily five million cans and earlier was rewarded as one the best production sites in North America.

Disappointed with the treatment despite their achievements and hard work the 130 USW members of the Weston site were not left any choice, but to start a strike in response to the company unjust protracted campaign aimed to lower wages and undermine working conditions.

As part of the international campaign, three demonstrations will be organized to protest the on-going conflicts at the Crown plants: the first one will be held on 16 October in Philadelphia, U.S. where the company is headquartered; the second, on 18 October is in Baar, Switzerland, where the company’s European headquarters is located; and the third will be in Turkey on 21 October.

In the meantime, a USW and LabourStart have launched a joint campaign page. To send online message of protest to the Crown Holdings CEO John Conway in support of the workers in Canada and Turkey, click on the link below: