Thursday, June 26, 2008

As I write this the Euro 2008 soccer tournament in Vienna is still ongoing. I swear I never see so many cars driving around town with flags attached as I do at the time of such events. The Euro tournament may not produce as many big parties as the World Cup, but I swear to God that it produces more flags. The latest today is that Spain shamed Russia with a 3/0 victory. Yeah team !!! Spain next goes up against Germany. If my cheering for Spain was an obvious no-brainer then who I cheer for in the next match should be even more so.
But there is a dark side to all this fun. The logo goods for Euro 2008 are produced by a virulently anti-union outfit, Mink Teksil in Turkey. This factory has been the scene of numerous labour rights violations, including a mass-sacking of workers who were attempting to form an union. The following appeal from the Clean Clothes Campaign asks you to send letters of protest over this source of Euro 2008 goods.

Euro 2008 Supplier Gets Red Card for Workers' Rights‏
Demand the reinstatement of the workers of Mink Tekstil and the right of freedom of association! Take action now at:
In the month before football players from 16 European nations kicked the ball over the line, 52 workers in Turkey learned about the other side of the Euro 2008 medal. They worked for the factory Mink Tekstil in Konya, Turkey which produces Euro 2008 logo goods. In June 2006, almost the entire workforce of Mink Tekstil (90 Percent) joined the textile trade union Teksif. Although Teksif was granted bargaining rights at Mink Tekstil, factory management refused to accept the union’s invitation to begin negotiations and instead launched an anti-union campaign, forcing workers to resign from the union under threats of dismissal, pay cuts, the conclusion of ‘under the table’ payments and transfer to other locations. As a result of the pressure, eight union members resigned from union membership. The dozens of other union members who refused to resign were dismissed. In this context, Teksif ended up losing its majority and hence its bargaining rights.
In June and July 2006, Teksif filed court cases on behalf of 52 workers, arguing that they had been dismissed because of their trade union involvement, and demanding their reinstatement. Following a lengthy legal process, all 52 cases have now gone through the Labour Courts, which confirmed that the workers had been dismissed as a result of their union membership. The Labour Court ordered their reinstatement (except in three cases where the workers were entitled to compensation but lacked the six months’ seniority required for reinstatement). Later the High Court of Appeal upheld the reinstatement decision of the Labour Court. However, Mink Tekstil continues to refuse to take back any of the workers.
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Warner Bros and IPM In order to sell UEFA logo goods, companies need to have an official licence from the UEFA. Warner Bros. Consumer Products was commissioned by the UEFA to give out licenses to suppliers. The licenses for home textile products were granted to IPM, owned by Austrian Akhim Türesin. In an interview to the Austrian newspaper “Kurier” of April 25th, Akhim Türesin stated that all his suppliers comply with international and national working standards, and that working conditions are audited by an unannounced inspection team.
Workers Rights’ Violations at IPM Supplier Mink Tekstil National law and international labour standards have been violated at Mink Tekstil, which is manufacturing blankets with the Euro 2008 logo. Akhim Türesins states that his company does not produce at Mink Tekstil and only sample orders were placed at the factory. But in an article in one of the biggest financial newspapers in Turkey, the owner of Mink Tekstil stated that his factory got all the blanket orders of Euro 2008 and therefore does produce for the Austrian company IPM. The research of the Clean Clothes Campaign suggests that about 600.000 blankets with the Euro 2008 logo were produced at Mink Tekstil.
Play Fair for workers
For this reason, the Clean Clothes Campaign appeals to IPM and its owner, Mr. Akhim Türesin, to stop denying his responsibility for the workers who make his products. IPM must assure that (1) all dismissed workers from Mink Tekstil are re-instated with back pay since the date of their dismissal and (2) to guarantee the right of freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively in the future.
Take Action now and write a letter to Mr. Akhim Türesin of IPM, UEFA President Michel Platini and Mink Tekstil to demand the reinstatement of the workers of Mink Tekstil and the right of freedom of association!

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