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Cargill’s response to allegations of unfair labour practice towards 14 employees at its Orhangazi plant

April 10, 2019

The starch based sugar industry in Turkey is governed by a national quota system, whereby annual quotas are allocated by law to the industry participants. In March 2018, a change to the law meant that Cargill’s annual quota was reduced from 10% of the annual overall starch based sugar quota, to 5%. This change came into effect in mid-June 2018.

The halving of the quota means a very significant reduction in the production of sweeteners at Cargill’s sweeteners facility in Orhangazi.  Since then, the quota has been further reduced to 2.5%.

As a result of the sugar quota reductions, Cargill’s business in Turkey has had to take immediate measures to ensure that it can remain a viable business in the long term in the country.

After analysing the Orhangazi facility’s capacity utilization, efficiency and sweetener production operations, the business carried out a mitigation plan across its Turkish operations.  The cost cutting measures put in place covered many areas of spending and led to a reduction in force of 16 positions at the Orhangazi plant in April 2018.

The selection process was carried out in accordance with Turkish law, and Turkish law prohibits terminating employment relations on the basis of union membership.

The Union has made claims that Cargill selected only union members for the reduction in force. Cargill did not take into consideration union membership in making selection decisions.  While nothing prevents Turkish employees to be transparent towards their employer about their union membership, Turkish law does not permit Cargill to collect and process the names of any employees who might be union members.  Employees were not singled out because they belonged, or intended to join a union, nor was union membership or any other form of activity taken into consideration during the process.

As a global company with more than 155,000 employees around the world, Cargill respects the rights of its employees to belong to unions of their choice. In Turkey, as in all the countries where we operate, we adhere to applicable law with regard to our employees’ rights. As written in Cargill’s Statement on Human Rights, Cargill respects the freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain, enabling employees to join a union and voluntarily negotiate.