·  Media release

Manufacturing Giant Crown Holdings Condemned for Human Rights Abuses in Turkey

TORONTO - The United Steelworkers (USW) is condemning the latest anti-labour attacks of U.S.-based multinational Crown Holdings, which has fired union activists at its manufacturing plant in Turkey.

Four labour activists who spent over a year on a union organizing drive at Crown's operations in Turkey have been fired, the Turkish union Birle\xc5\x9fik Metal-\xc4\xb0\xc5\x9f has reported.

The dismissals reflect anti-union behaviour exhibited by Crown at its global operations, including the company's Toronto factory, where workers have been forced on strike, said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

The USW is working with unions in Turkey and several other countries to defend the labour and human rights of workers at Crown's global operations, Neumann said. Crown Holdings is one of the world's largest manufacturers of food and beverage containers.

"Freedom of association is a fundamental human right that is accorded legal status by the International Labour Organization," Neumann said. "We don't differentiate between labour and human rights, because they are inextricably linked, and we stand in solidarity with the workers in Turkey."

The Birle\xc5\x9fik Metal-\xc4\xb0\xc5\x9f union reports that labour activists at Crown's operations in Turkey have been fired on trumped-up charges, in an attempt to overcome a democratic election in which workers voted for union representation.

The four leaders were falsely accused of encouraging other workers to not work overtime. They were first asked to give testimonies and not allowed to enter the premises of the company, instead being sent on arbitrary leave. Even though all the allegations were false and groundless - because there was no overtime work at the plant - the union members were dismissed when they refused to sign an imposed document.

In Toronto, despite huge profits Crown provoked a strike last September by demanding dramatic concessions from its 120 unionized employees, members of the USW.

With the Toronto strike now into its seventh month, workers say Crown appears to be attempting to prolong the dispute by making progressively worse contract offers.

A delegation of USW strikers met last fall in Turkey with Birle\xc5\x9fik Metal-\xc4\xb0\xc5\x9f members and committed to work together to combat union-busting actions at Crown Holdings operations.

In February, representatives of several unions met in Geneva, Switzerland, to plan a global strategy against Crown. The international campaign has received the support of IndustriALL Global Union, a federation whose affiliates represent over 50 million workers worldwide.

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For further Information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-6009, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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