Monday, July 5, 2010

Shots Fired As Freight Parcels Service Unrest Continues

Dispute with Union Turns Ugly in Turkey Whilst Bahrain Simmers
Shipping News Feature

TURKEY – BAHRAIN - A dispute which has rumbled on at depots in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul since April is still in deadlock according to transport union association International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) which represents the interests of over four and a half million staff as members of fifty nine major unions. In a conflict which has been little reported 33 UPS employees were allegedly sacked for encouraging union membership at the parcel shipping group’s terminals.

Following an outcry 24 were reinstated but the situation worsened and a further 70 plus staff were dismissed in May prompting mass rallies by Dutch and German union sympathisers at the Turkish picket line in Istanbul on the 5th and 6th June. By last week the number of staff dismissed by UPS had apparently reached 119 and, according to the ITF, relations have got steadily worse following the return of the UPS depot manager from a visit to company headquarters in Atlanta after which 30 workers were dismissed.

In the latest development last week, shots were apparently fired, allegedly by a manager of the UPS subcontractor who the trade union believes was forcing workers to resign their union membership at the office of a notary public. Speaking from the picket line outside the UPS Turkey offices in Istanbul, Mac Urata, secretary of the ITF’s Inland Transport Sections, confirmed the shooting and said:

“Thankfully no one was wounded, and the perpetrator is reported to be in the hands of the police, at least for now. We will once again be speaking to UPS head office to ask them to intervene immediately with their subsidiary in Turkey, while our colleagues in the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) will also be raising the matter with the European Parliament, and jointly we will do the same with the Prime Minister of Turkey.”

Despite requests from the Handy Shipping Guide we have received no response from UPS regarding the dispute.

In the meantime the Arabic press report that a four month long dispute at rival parcel carriers DHL is beginning to worsen. Union officials employed at the company’s facility in Bahrain say they wore yellow armbands for ten days last month to express their dissatisfaction with pay levels. They then switched to red armbands as a visible warning to the company that the situation was becoming more serious.

DHL are adamant that all their staff are fairly treated and insist that, having paid an across the board average salary increase in April and extended medical and other benefits by the 27th June, the employees have no cause for complaint. The union admit the concessions made include staff family health benefits, transport expenses and a heat allowance but state these do not answer their primary grievance of low pay and poor conditions. A strike is now mooted to begin with a fortnight having already been postponed from the 18th June whilst talks continued. It is to be hoped that ongoing negotiations will resolve the matter. Photo: Picket Line at UPS Istanbul