In recent months, FTA has received allegations that factory workers in Turkey have been dismissed, or have been threatened with dismissal, because of their affiliation with trade unions.
Some of these allegations are still under investigation in open lawsuits. However, we would like to emphasise that the right of freedom of association is one of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Conventions and a fundamental human right proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The ability of individuals to unite freely represents the transition from an individual right to a collective right. Freedom of association is the prerequisite for sound collective bargaining and social dialogue in the promotion of good working conditions. As such, it is intrinsic to the development of vibrant societies and common prosperity.
As an important sourcing country for many FTA members, Turkey is the fifth largest sourcing partner for the EU accounting for almost €67Bn of imports in 2016, and the fourth largest export market (€78Bn in 2016). In addition, there are 1878 factories in Turkey that have endorsed the Code of Conduct of FTA’s Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI).
Business enterprises that have endorsed the BSCI Code of Conduct, commit to observe its values and principles. Concretely, “(…) They shall a) respect the right of workers to form unions in a free and democratic way; b) not discriminate against workers because of trade union membership and c) respect workers’ right to bargaining collectively (…)”
When business enterprises neglect honouring these commitments, they do not meet the expectations of their business partners, a behaviour that can hinder in the long-run their own country’s opportunity to develop as a reputedly counter partner in international trade.
Therefore, FTA calls upon companies in Turkey, particularly those which have endorsed the BSCI Code of Conduct, to abide by its principles and adhere to their business responsibility to respect human rights as defined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
FTA will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders on the ground to tackle complex labour issues and together with its members it will closely monitor the ongoing cases seeking for satisfactory outcome to all involved parties.