Turkey

The ITUC affiliates in Turkey are the Devrimci Isçi Sendikalari Konfederasyonu (DISK), Kamu Emekçileri Sendikalari Konfederasyonu (KESK), Türkiye Hak Isçi Sendikalari Konfederasyonu (HAK-IS) and the Türkiye Isçi Sendikalari Konfederasyonu (TÜRK-IS).

Mass protests against the replacement of Taksim Gezi Park with a shopping mall and military barracks were held from 28 May 2013 onwards. Police attempted to break up the protest by using disproportionate violence with tear gas and water cannons leading to about 8,163 injuries and five deaths (Turkish Medical Association). The protests spread to different cities and addressed issues such as the lack of freedom of expression, assembly and association as well as curbs on alcohol.

The Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Turkish Doctor’s Union, the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects and the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Union (DISK) participated in the protests.

The Trade Unions and Collective Agreement Act No. 6356 was adopted in 2012. Unions reported that their objections were not sufficiently taken into consideration in the drafting process.

In practice

Freedom of association / Right to organise

Barriers to the establishment of organizations:

More workers forced to change union affiliation
31-03-2010

In March, in Eleşkirt hospital in Ağrı, workers affiliated to KESK-affiliated Health and Social Service Workers’ Union (SES) were visited by a delegation of Saglık-Sen, a union which is friendly to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). They were threatened and forced to resign from SES, and promised better contracts if they would join Saglik-Sen, which around 30 of them eventually did.

Restrictions on trade unions' right to organize their administration:

Interference in May Day celebrations
31-07-2013

The public prosecutor initiated an investigation into the involvement of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) Chairman Kani Beko and General Secretary Arzu Çerkezoğlu in the 2013 May Day celebrations. The Governor of Istanbul prohibited May Day demonstrations on Taksim Square arguing a construction site would put demonstrators in danger. Police used violence to stop hundreds of protesters trying to reach Taksim Square.

Interference in trade union premises
25-03-2013

On 25 March 2013, the head offices of Liman-Is, the National Port and Land Stevedores Union of Turkey and of Genel-Is were raided by security forces. Serious damage was done to the building gateway, entrance door and accounting office door.

Categories of workers prohibited or limited from forming or joining a union, or from holding a union office:

Outsourcing undermining workers’ and trade union rights
31-12-2011

The steady rise of outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out in Turkey is undermining workers’ rights. The Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) estimates that around 3 million workers in Turkey are employed by outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out companies, often in inhumane conditions. Work accidents and occupational diseases are on the increase because safety measures are ignored by subcontracting firms. Pay can also be a problem as even though the real employer may pay salaries on time, the sub-contracting company may first use the money for their own investments and delay passing the money on to the workers.

It is difficult for outsourced workers to improve their conditions because they are prevented from joining unions. If they try to organise, they lose their jobs. Even if they succeed, the contracting company often launches a new tender, hiring a new outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out company. Outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out is primarily used in the public sector for services like cleaning, transportation and health, although it is on the increase in the private sector. Even big factories that use mass production are changing their system and prefer to hire outsourced workers without unions.

Worryingly, the Turkish government is preparing to amend legislation in a way that will increase the number of outsourced workers, including by facilitating the hiring of workers on a seasonal basis.

Trade union discrimination:

Anti-union discrimination
07-08-2013

Petrol-ls organised a considerable number of workers at TransAtlantic Petroleum Ltd company and Viking Services BS company, a company operating in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe in the fields of petroleum and gas exploration and production. As soon as management became aware of the organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. efforts 24 trade unionists were dismissed and six trade unionists were transferred to oilfields in Northern Iraq. Moreover, the company uses intimidation, assaults and threats to deter trade unionists. Petrol-ls has brought the case to court and stages pickets outside the plant.

The company Pakpen dismissed eleven Petrol-Is members when it learned about the organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaign of the union. Petrol-Is has filed a case at the labour court and is negotiating with management.

The company Plaskar , based in Bursa, dismissed 45 workers organised by Petrol-Is in May 2012 and threatened workers with further dismissals.

Local management of the Demo Plastik company dismissed ten trade unionists when it heard of the union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. in 2012.

Arobus dismissed 19 workers
27-06-2013

The company Arobus dismissed 19 workers in response to their trade union activities as members of the union Birleşik. When the union achieved the representativity requirements for bargaining, the company summoned workers at its Bursa plant to the management’s office and offered the choice between dismissal and relinquishing their Birleşik membership in favour of another union. Arobus also called a public notary to the company to pressure workers to change their union membership.

Anti-union discrimination
31-03-2013

In March 2013, the courts found that four DHL workers had been dismissed because of their trade union activities. DHL has also been accused of actively supporting unions which are more favourable to management in order to undermine existing independent unions.

By January 2013, the Tekgida-Is union had recruited a significant number of workers at the East Balt company, the key supplier to McDonald’s restaurants, as trade union members. When Tekgida-Is applied to the Labour Ministry for a bargaining certificate in January 2013, management started to dismiss union members. Only after the union threatened to place pickets in front of McDonald’s restaurants did management reinstate the dismissed trade union members.

Four trade union members were dismissed from their positions at ISMACO because of their trade union membership. Management said that it does not want union representation. The Deri-Is union has been picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. against this decision since December 2012.

Anti-union discrimination
31-12-2012

The company Teknik Plastik Sealed Air dismissed five trade unionists after Petrol-ls launched an organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaign at the plant in Istanbul. Other workers were threatened and intimidated by management. The dismissed workers were reinstated in December 2012.

Dismissed unionists reinstated by court
13-12-2010

After two years of struggle, the Sinter Metal workers dismissed on 22 December 2008 won their reinstatement cases on 13 December 2010. The legal cases were launched by their union Birlesik Metal-Is, a DISK affiliate, immediately after their dismissal in December 2008. The workers had been dismissed under the pretext of poor performance and of economic crises, but the court declared that the reason behind the dismissals was the workers’ trade union membership. The court ordered that the workers be reinstated.

Others restrictions:

8 trade unionists were released
05-08-2013

On 5 August 2013, 8 trade unionists were released. As of 15 August 2013, 66 executives and members of KESK, including 40 members of the teachers’ union Egitim Sen, are still languishing in jail in connection with various court cases.

Right to collective bargaining

Barriers to the recognition of collective bargaining agents:

Refusal to recognise unions for bargaining
16-08-2013

The textile companies DESA and the ISMACO refuse to recognise unions in their companies and to enter in a dialogue with trade union members. In January 2013, IndustriALL Global Union and Deri-Is lodged a series of demands to DESA which were dismissed.

Employers’ anti-union tactics
31-12-2011

It is common practice for Turkish employers to file a complaint alleging that a trade union organisation does not have the required majority for bargaining purposes. This is a common method to block trade union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. . Furthermore, during legal proceedings, union members are often dismissed. In addition, most court cases take years to resolve, which prevent trade unions from functioning freely and efficiently.

Undermining of the recourse to collective bargaining and his effectiveness:

Refusal to bargain in good faith
07-08-2013

Petrol-Is continues to have disputes with the pharmaceutical company Deva which refuses to negotiate a new collective agreement with the union in 2012. In April 2012, the labour court ordered the reinstatement of 66 workers who had been dismissed for their union membership in late 2010.

Bargaining obstructed
30-11-2009

Right to strike

Undermining of the recourse to strike actions or their effectiveness:

Turkish Airline undermines strike
09-07-2013

An Istanbul Labour Court ordered Turkish Airlines to stop hiring workers to replace workers who were on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The airline had hired 700 workers and had made arrangements with its SunExpress joint venture to replace 1,600 striking cabin crew workers. Hava-Is went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 15 May 2013.

The state holds 48 per cent of the shares in Turkish Airlines. The Minister of Finance, Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister and the Minister of Labour explicitly threatened Turkish Airlines workers with dismissal in their public statements.

The TEKEL workers’ case - workers forced to accept inferior working conditions
31-12-2010

The Turkish government’s decision to privatise TEKEL (former state tobacco and alcohol monopoly) warehouses led to the dismissal of 12,000 workers. These workers, along with their families and supporters, started demonstrating on 15 December 2009. The protest began in front of the headquarters of Prime Minister Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), but the police cleared the area on 16 December and forced the demonstrators to a nearby park. The following day, police put up barricades around the park and then used water hoses and tear gas against the demonstrators. Police violence escalated and clubs were used against the demonstrators, many of whom had to be hospitalised. Mustafa Türkel, President of Tekgida-Is, which represents these workers and is affiliated to TURK-Is, and General Secretary of Türk-Is, were arrested, but then released later that evening. The police violence caused an outcry in the Turkish Parliament, but the government continued to refuse to accede to the workers’ demand that they be given alternative employment with full employee benefits, as the law on privatisation provides.

In 2010, after 78 days of protesting, the workers ceased their action only to return to the streets of Ankara on 1 April for a one-day protest against working under Article 4/C of Law No. 657 (on working conditions of public employees), which restricts them to lower wages and fewer employee rights. Workers coming from different provinces were not allowed to enter the city in groups and convene at their previously scheduled meeting point in front of TURK-Is headquarters. Police and workers subsequently clashed in different parts of the city. Workers from KESK, who came to the city center in a show of support for the Tekel workers, similarly faced police using pepper gas.

The union took the Article 4/C case to court, as the measure in itself contravened Turkish law. The government, however, financially forced workers to resume work under Article 4/C after it blocked the union’s solidarity fund account in September. As the court case was postponed time and again, most workers, in need of an income, saw no other option but to resume working.

Limitations or ban on strikes in certain sectors:

EU Commission report deplores limited progress in the area of social dialogue
31-12-2011

In its October report on accession, the European Commission stated that “There has been limited progress in the area of social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. ". The ban on the contractual personnel of state economic enterprises from establishing trade unions or engaging in trade union activities has been lifted. However, the ban on these personnel engaging in any kind of strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action remains in place. A Prime Ministerial circular allows the participation of civil servants’ trade unions on the boards dealing with the social rights of public employees and disciplinary issues. Constitutional amendments regarding workers’ rights have not been put into effect as the necessary changes in the relevant trade union legislation have not been made.

Social partners social partners Unions and employers or their representative organisations. have failed to agree on key issues such as the right to organise at workplace level and thresholds for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. The Economic and Social Council did not meet during the reporting period. The coverage of workers by collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreements has not increased.

Severe limitations to the right to strike
30-11-2009

On 21 April, in the Yapi-Yol Sen (an affiliate of national public sector union KESK) case, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that the general ban, issued by the Turkish government, preventing public-sector employees from taking part in a one-day national strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in support of the right to a collective-bargaining agreement, was a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of assembly and association.

Other restrictions:

Judicial harassment of trade unions
30-11-2009

2009 saw a dramatic increase of trials aimed at curtailing trade unions, a trend which started earlier but seems to be steadily on the rise. There is a basic pattern, with unionists being treated roughly, or even mistreated, following their arrest, after which the authorities invoke some legal clause to keep the cases “confidential”, so the defence lawyers have no access to their clients’ files, sometimes for more than one month. The accusations are generally related to some form of “terrorist activity”, and the trials are usually marked by a lack of compliance with both national and European legal requirements.

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