IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union are expressing serious concern about violations of human and workers’ rights and anti-union behaviour at the steel company POSCO Assan’s plant in Kocaeli, Turkey.

In 2017, the company dismissed 80 workers for joining the trade union Birleşik Metal İş. Police used violence against union members protesting against these dismissals outside the factory gates, and arrested union members and leaders. 5 years later, the union scored a win for the Turkish workers when Turkey’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that the union had a majority in the workplace and that POSCO had to recognise the union as a collective bargaining partner.

POSCO has denied the allegations of anti-union behaviour and continues to mislead.

Posco's decision to continue violating Turkish workers' right to the effective recognition of collective bargaining follows a pattern of addressing rulings on its anti-union practices by continued repression of democratic trade unions.

The gap between Posco's compliance on-paper and genuine redress of its anti-union practices identified by South Korea’s courts, human rights commission and labour ministry over the years highlights Posco's failure to disavow union busting and reluctance to recognize democratic trade unions. Posco's continued pipeline of finances to MOGE, recognized as a revenue generator for the Myanmar coup d'etat forces, through Posco International's Shwe gas project, is in an example of utter disregard for the respect and implementation of workers and human rights.

In its most recent response to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) in July 2022, POSCO Assan claimed that the workers had been dismissed for indiscipline and that the company had decided to rehire the workers and pay compensation to those who were not reinstated. A series of court decisions prove otherwise. Courts have in fact ruled that POSCO fired the workers for their union activities and ordered the company to pay 12 months extra salary on top of their severance pay.

In a joint response to POSCO Assan’s reply to the BHRRC of July 2022, industriALL Europe and IndustriALL Global provide evidence and set out a case against the company’s claims.

The two organisations call on the Board of Directors of POSCO Holdings Inc, which is responsible for overseeing environmental, social and corporate governance policies, to effectively implement the Human Rights Management Guidelines, recognise Birleşik Metal İş as the collective bargaining agent and engage in good faith negotiations, as required by the court ruling and enshrined in core labour standards.

Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe:

“We are shocked by the violation of workers’ rights at POSCO Assan, especially the right to collective bargaining by denying that Birleşik Metal İş is legally the representative union. This is despite clear court rulings. We call on POSCO Assan to engage with Birleşik Metal İş and negotiate in good faith now!

“We also remind the company of its own human rights due diligence process, which states that where company policies and procedures fail - as is clearly the case - efforts should be made to remedy the adverse impact.”

Says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary:

“POSCO has a global track record of union busting which contradicts its own due diligence principles. The dishonesty shown in the company’s response to the case in Turkey should alarm investors: this is a company that is prepared to break the law to undermine trade unions, and then lie about it. The highest court in Turkey has ruled that Birlesik Metal Is represents workers at the Kocaeli plant. POSCO should accept the ruling and begin negotiations.”