Strategic Campaigning in Multinational   Companies:  the Case of United Parcel Service  (Ups) in Turkey

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  juridikum    3/2011

thema: Transnationale Konzer ne und Menschenrechte

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Strategic Campaigning in Multinational   Companies: The Case of United Parcel Service  (UPS) in Turkey Molly Elizabeth McGrath / Demet Sahende Dinler ¸

For Gerhard Eggers1 Introduction ˙ On 24th January 2011, TÜMTIS, a Turkish trade union in the transport sector signed a protocol with the global logistics company, UPS. The protocol reinstated the majority of the 163 workers who were fired for joining the union during the UPS organizing ˙ campaign and guaranteed that TÜMTIS could freely continue its organizing activities at UPS workplaces. The protocol was the culmination of a nine-month-long campaign of struggle and negotiation between the company and union. International Transport ˙ Workers’ Federation (ITF), which partnered with TÜMTIS in the global campaign, celebrated the achievement as giving the “three-year global delivery campaign in Turkey a huge boost towards sound industrial relations in the future.”2 In a globalised world, organising multinational companies poses real challenges for national trade unions, with complexity of decision-making structures, hostility to union activity, flexibility of labour force, use of subcontractors and mobility of capital. Yet, it brings new opportunities for unions that strive to grow and cooperate globally with ˙ other unions in improving workers’ conditions. This paper investigates how TÜMTIS and the ITF responded jointly to those challenges and utilized several opportunities in the UPS campaign. In the first part, it examines the use of locally available legal instruments; the second part is devoted to the analysis of strategic toolkit mobilized by the ITF after the internationalization of the local dispute. The period covered is the first ‘strategic campaign’ phase, from August 2010 to February 2011, rather than second ‘organising’ phase.

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We would like to dedicate this piece to the memory of Gerhard Eggers, who was a very special trade unionist from the FNV-Bondgenoten, UPS employee, and President of UPS European Works’ Council. He unexpectedly passed away on 9 June 2011, and his loss is mourned by the international community. Gerhard gave generous support to the UPS campaign in Turkey and his interventions were key to its eventual victory. ITF, Press Release, Boost to global delivery organising in Turkey as UPS workers win reinstatement, http://www. itfglobal.org/ogblog/?p=76 (3 February 2010).

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McGrath/ Dinler, The Case of United Parcel Ser vice (UPS) in Turkey

We author the paper as active participants of the UPS campaign and write in a personal ˙ capacity. We were hired by the ITF and based at the offices of the local union in Istanbul, Turkey. We conceptualized the project and our roles included company and market research, compiling workforce data, writing reports, ensuring communication between ˙ TÜMTIS and the international union community, and supporting strategy-building. 1. UPS Campaign and Turkish Road Transport Union: Brief background ˙ Established in 1949, TÜMTIS is a small, militant organizing union operating in small and medium-scale private transport companies. The UPS organizing campaign was ini˙ tiated in 2008 after TÜMTIS, and representatives of ITF’s Global Delivery Unions Network (GDN) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) came together in ˙ ˙ İstanbul. It took off in early 2010 in Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara, three largest cities of Turkey. After the multinational company made an almost complete acquisition of ÜNSPED, which had operated as UPS’ authorized service supplier until August 2009, UPS Worldwide became the employer for the majority of an estimated 5,000 workers (3,000 direct employees, the rest via subcontractors and local agencies) in Turkey. In Turkey, UPS is a major competitor in the express delivery market segment with other enterprises like Deutsche Post DHL or Yurtiçi Kargo. The acquisition was made under a new,...
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