Turkish Airlines Workers Keep On Fighting

305 THY (Turkish Airlines) workers who were sacked because they rose against banning of strike action in aviation industry by law keep their struggle on. As Hava-İş (Civil Aviation Workers’ Union) members they have not left the Atatürk Airport’s International Flights Terminal since they were fired. They demand they be reinstated and the strike ban recalled. As response to Hava-İş’s appeal they have been offered solidarity on a national and international level. SGBP (Trade-unions Collaboration Platform) which was formed by 10 dissident unions within the biggest workers’ unions’ confederation, Türk-İş, organises various actions to support aviation workers. SGPB held mass press meetings on 9 June in many cities across Turkey, and visited the striking workers on 16 and 24 June. UİD-DER took part in these actions with a massive presence and was appreciated by combative workers.

Hava-İş officials and striking workers, referring to the recent actions in support, say that they are determined. One of these actions (on 27 July) was also participated by the ITF Maritime Coordinator Stephen Cotton. He and many workers and officials from many trade-unions visited the striking aviation workers in the airport. In his speech he promised to continue international support through the ITF and organise an action in London.

Turkish Airlines workers were offered support by women as well. On 4 August SGBP Women’s Coordination organised an action where women from many unions and democratic mass organisations participated. They held a mass press meeting in front of the central ticket office of Turkish Airlines in Taksim. In their statement they said that aviation workers were not alone. In the speech it was also stated women workers who are flight personnel also face serious health problems especially due to high pressure. In the action, the song “Havada Direniş Var” [“There is Resistance in the Air”] composed by UİD-DER music band for the striking workers was sang with enthusiasm.

Following the visit of Stephen Cotton from the ITF, British workers tried to make an action in support of THY workers. ITF and Unite tried to march towards Turkish embassy in London to protest the Turkish government’s attitude and express their solidarity with the striking THY workers. Hava-İş had made a medal to be given to Turkish PM Tayyip Erdoğan who was in London to join the Olympic Games opening ceremony. ITF and Unite tried to submit this medal to the Turkish embassy. On the medal it was written that demands of THY workers must be respected.

Union representatives and workers who were carrying 305 red and white balloons representing the sacked workers were not allowed to march until the embassy. Stephen Cotton said “It is shameful that we are not allowed to submit the gold medal, but they could not prevent us from highlighting what we aimed at.” Such international solidarity actions are helping the struggle of the THY workers. In fact they need more international support and actions to increase the pressure on the government.

In an interview with UİD-DER, Hava-İş chairman Atilay Ayçin emphasised the importance of international workers solidarity and expressed their need for international support from trade-unions. Those workers who send letters to the bulletin of UİD-DER, İşçi Dayanışması [Workers Solidarity], say they would keep their actions to support the striking aviation workers.

11 August 2012