. International Solidarity With The UPS Workers | Association of International Workers' Solidarity

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International Solidarity With The UPS Workers

International solidarity with UPS workers, who have been dismissed because of unionizing, expands as they keep fighting to be reinstated in front of their workplace. On the 158th day of their struggle, a good example for international workers solidarity was exhibited in the picket line outside the UPS offices in Mahmutbey, Istanbul. Members of ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) were welcomed enthusiastically by UPS workers. Our organization UID-DER (Association of International Workers’ Solidarity) was also with the struggling workers on this meaningful day.

ITF Inland Transport Section Secretary, Mac Urata; ETF Road Transport Section President, Roberto Parillo; ETF Road Transport Political Secretary, Cristina Tilling; Gonca Schrammel and Birgül Tütün İnce from VIDA (Austria) ; Frank Moreels, Tom Peeters and Olivier van den Eynde from Belgium Transport Workers’ Union; Jan de Jong and Edwin Atema from FNV Bondgenoten Union (Netherlands); Malene Volkers, Hedwig Krimmer, Isabella Horger, Marlene Buchman, Frank Franke, Joachim Schwiderke, Christoph Feldmann, Harald Meyer, Hans-Peter Konrad, David Merk, Mahmut Gemili, Murat Şahin, Anton Hirtreiter, Renate Birkel from VER.DI (Germany); Day Ramberg, Eirik Lauritsen, Sessel Karlsen, Hilmar Davidsen, Monica Nkechi Okpe, Javard Hansen, Sven Lund, Asbjorn Paulsen and Fredrik Solvang Winger from Norway Transport Workers’ Union were on the picket line to show their support for the UPS workers and to greet them on behalf of transport workers of their countries.

ITF affiliate TUMTIS was also there as the host with its representatives. Kenan Öztürk, the president of TUMTIS, thanked the guest unionists and their fellow workers in their countries for their contribution to the international solidarity as he began his speech. Then, he declared that the negotiations with the employer were in progress and emphasized that they will not stop resisting before the workers will be reinstated.

After they greeted UPS workers on behalf of their fellow workers of their homelands, the international visitors informed us about the actions they took in order to help the UPS resistance and extend the international solidarity. They emphasized that the financial support they provide and the actions they take for this resistance would continue and that the employer of the UPS would be brought to heel with the help of this international solidarity. Participants also congratulated the workers and told them how much they have been impressed by this 158 day long struggle. They also added that they informed their fellow workers about this struggle in their countries. Their speeches were followed by slogans such as “long live the international solidarity”.

Two woman unionists from Germany performed a song. They told that it was originally a Russian song before it became a popular march of German workers. This march was familiar to us:  “Palaces of the lords made of sweat of the workers / Battlefield is before us, march on workers’ battalions! / We will break the chains of slavery with our fists/ We don’t even have a grain of fear of the boss’ army!”

We speak the same language!

After this public press declaration we had the chance of talking with striking worker brothers and also with their international visitors. As International Workers Solidarity Association, we informed the visitors about our organization, our mission and activities and tried to get to know them.

Our friends from Austrian transport union VIDA told us that they were in progress for unionizing the UPS transport centre. One of the UPS workers who work in the cargo-packaging section had visited the union and offered to unionize his workplace in 2 years. And while their efforts for unionizing continue, the unionizing struggle of UPS Turkey workers broke out which pleased the Austrian unionists who put forward this struggle as an example. Now, they keep fighting to unionize. VIDA representatives were also impressed when we informed them about our association’s activities and wished that they had a similar organization in Austria.

And unionist friends from German union VER.DI told that attacks against unions and the working class in general continue in Germany. Union representative Murat Şahin said that he knew our association and added that he followed the news about UPS resistance on www.uidder.org.

We learned from Norwegian comrades about an aid fund for the UPS workers established by Norway Transport Workers Union in order to cover %10 of each resisting worker’s salary. A Norwegian unionist also told that it was very costly to go to Istanbul with such a large delegation whereas it could be more sensible to visit with a smaller delegation to help increase the financial support.

The visitor union representatives revealed that they were looking for new ways to help the UPS struggle and their solidarity actions will continue.

Long Live the Working Class Solidarity

We saw our international guests off by our slogans. After that, the representative of our Sefaköy branch gave a short speech to the fighting comrades: “UID-DER is an organization which strives to bring workers together everywhere. We are so happy to express our solidarity with the UPS resistance here today. This kind of struggle gains more importance in such periods we live in when the vast majority of workers are non-unionized and employers act so aggressively. To help strengthen this fight, we try to spread the word and attract attention to it everywhere we can. We place very much importance to this kind of solidarity visits. Today, we have also experienced a great example of international solidarity. We strongly believe that this fight will reach the victory. In fact, much has been gained already. The importance of militant unionism which is needed by the working class arises too. We congratulate TUMTIS for waging a militant struggle. Long live working class solidarity! Long live the international unity of working class’ struggle!”

The speech was followed by UPS workers’ slogan: “Workers united will never be defeated!”

On behalf of the UPS workers, TUMTIS Branch president Çayan Dursun gave the following speech in reply: “I thank you on behalf of my union for your visit. The current situation of this struggle is very well in the international aspect. But, domestically, it didn’t take as much attention as it deserved. We don’t think we had enough support from working class organizations and unions. However, UID-DER never left us alone and kept supporting us since the beginning. You were here with us before and you are here with us today. We thank you very much.” We were seen off from the picket line by the slogan: “Long live working class solidarity!”

UID-DER Stands Shoulder to Shoulder with the Fighting Workers!

Since we established the Association of International Workers’ Solidarity, we have been carrying on activities in workers’ neighbourhoods, in the picket lines; in short, wherever the workers are. Our association, which was founded by the workers who had met in various strikes and resistances, gets its power from workers. As workers from different industries, we share a common point: we all know that we have to fight against employers’ offensive all together. We also believe that the flag of the working class struggle must be raised by workers of all countries.

UPS resistance shows us once more that the international workers’ solidarity is possible. We have been with the UPS workers since the beginning. And here we are today with our banners which read: “Shoulder to Shoulder with UPS Workers!”, “Long Live International Workers Solidarity!”, “UPS workers are not alone”, “International is the only way out for humanity”, “Stop employment without union”, “Stop layoffs, reduce the working hours, job for everyone!”, “Workers of All Lands, Unite!” With all comrade participants, we shouted: “Long Live International Solidarity!”

10 October 2010