03 February 2011, Thursday

Struggle in UPS Ends with Victory!

Turkey's transportation union (TÜMTİS) announced on Tuesday that the UPS struggle that has been going on for 272 days ended with success.

Turkey's transportation union (TÜMTİS) announced on Tuesday that the UPS struggle that has been going on for 272 days ended with success. 151 of the fired workers from Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, and Balikesir are reinstated to their jobs as of Tuesday.

What had happened at UPS?

On April 21st, 33 UPS workers were laid off after their employees found about the unionization activity carried out by TÜMTİS in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir UPS branches.  After the struggle of the workers started the next day, and also as a result of the strong international support, 24 of the 25 workers were reinstated to their jobs, till the firings restarted after a short while.

On May3rd, 2010, 33 more workers lost their jobs, and the layoffs continued until overall 162 workers' jobs were permanently terminated.

The struggle was mainly carried out in Mahmut Bey and Kurtköy transshipment centers in Istanbul and in Izmir through protest tents. The support of the unions, civil society organizations, professional organizations, as well as political parties continued throughout the campaign.

The UPS struggle attained a remarkable significance in the history of labor movement in Turkey since it has become one of a few campaigns that ended with success despite the long period of struggle. Moreover, the UPS campaign will also be remembered as the first labor movement campaign in Turkey that was carried out with the help of massive international support.

As many of our readers will remember, International Transportation Federation (ITF) announced its support for the UPS campaign in Turkey in its 42nd general meeting in Mexico on August 3rd, 2010. During the same meeting, ITF also declared September 1st, and September 15th 2010 as the international actions days to show solidarity with UPS workers in Turkey for all of its 154 member countries.

More than tens of thousands workers participated in these action days in all over the world; from Argentine to Holland, to Australia, and USA. Despite these protests, UPS management was still determined to not to take any action. Consequently, ITF decided to declare more action days and also Teamsters of USA started to take more active part in the struggle, which alone has 200.000 members employed by UPS in USA.  As a result of the resolute and courageous continuation of the UPS campaign, the UPS headquarters in Atlanta, USA took action to start negotiations with TÜMTİS.

Start of a new era for the transportation workers

Despite all the challenges, negotiations continued till yesterday, and ended with the signing of affidavit of good faith, and reinstatement of 151 workers. The next goal of TÜMTİS is to continue the unionization process in UPS and to become the officially recognized union of UPS in Turkey. The victory of the UPS campaign in Turkey is expected to pave the way for the unionization in the transportation sector in Turkey, in which currently more than 40.000 unorganized workers are employed.

TÜMTİS members reinstated AT UPS

Today Turkey's TÜMTIS union won the reinstatement of has won from UPS the right to return or to compensation of 163 workers who had been unfairly dismissed by UPS Turkey. The pledge is at the heart of a settlement negotiated January 24 by UPS and TÜMTIS. Under the protocol the majority of the sacked workers returned to their jobs today. All will receive compensation.

The dispute with UPS ends after almost a year-272 days-of struggle, and is an rare achievement for workers in Turkey and its union movement. The settlement is the outcome of recent negotiations and an unprecedented campaign of international support for TÜMTIS UPS workers. Unions and associations from dozens of countries, including Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States visited the picket line or otherwise contributed with tirelessless to resolve this dispute.

The union said its UPS members remained vigilant and determined over the past ten months at picket lines in Istanbul and Izmir, with faith that justice would be served. It said the workers and their families endured tremendous hardship to simply exert their right to join a union and improve their working conditions in Turkey. TÜMTİS saluted their courage.

The union also sent its special thanks to the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) which showed great dedication in mobilising international solidarity. The ETF and ITF organised its affiliates to engage in several worldwide days of action in September and October in support of the UPS workers, in many countries in the world.

The union also sent special thanks to its sister unions, labour organizations, its confederation, TÜRK-İŞ, political parties, and football fan groups who visited its picket line and provided material and moral support and joined its protests.

According to a press statement released today by the union, thanks to this agreement, peace has been secured at the workplace. The union will continue its activities and ensure the UPS workers freely use their right to organise and ultimately, secure a collective work agreement at UPS.