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Turkey: Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Icecek fail critical test over key supplier's ongoing human rights abuses
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 (United Metal workers union), a member of our sister global union federation IndustriAll 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. You can read more here.
In communications with IUF, CCI has even acknowledged verbally that in an audit they had identified clear and serious violations of freedom of association rights by Crown Bevcan during the workers' unionization effort.
The Coca-Cola Company and its Turkish bottler, Coca-Cola Icecek in Turkey claim to maintain high levels of vigilance and responsibility regarding human rights behavior by companies in their supply chains. Crown Bevcan is both internationally and locally a key supplier as a producer of Coca-Cola products' cans.
The supplier principles of The Coca-Cola Company further claim that respect for Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining are core principles that must be respected by its suppliers. Where employees are represented by a legally recognized union, suppliers are told clearly to establish a constructive dialogue with the freely chosen representatives or their workforce and bargain in good faith with such representatives.
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.
ACT NOW -SEND A MESSAGE to TCCC and CCI and insist that they meet their obligation to intervene directly with this key can supplier to ensure that Crown Bevcan respects the human rights of its employees in Turkey, particularly those relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining.