Turkish Government’s Anti-Democratic Attack on the Right to Strike

The governing AKP (Justice and Development Party) aims to broaden already draconian anti-union laws of Turkey to make it impossible for aviation unions to organise legal strikes.

Last week, an AKP deputy tabled a motion in the Turkish Parliament amending the collective labour agreements law in order to introduce a full-fledged ban on the right to strike in the aviation industry.

In recent months, the AKP government has been acting in an increasingly authoritarian manner. It has no intention to respect international obligations when it comes to workers and union rights.

In February, draft legislation introduced by the government included a clause that appeared to deliberately target Turkish Civil Aviation Union (Hava-Is) - the only Turkish aviation union and an International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) affiliate - as it gave aviation companies the right to force 40 per cent of their workforce to work during a strike.

Previous to that, in December, affiliates of the Global Union Federations, including the ITF, raised their concerns about the new draft legislation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Since then, and during the parliamentary procedures considering the draft legislation, the Primary Committee took out this provision and sent it back to the Plenary.

Nevertheless, on 10th May, Metin Külünk, a deputy of the governing political party, proposed an amendment to Article 29 of the existing Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-Out Law (Law No. 2822; date of enactment: 05.05.1983) as follows:

Article 29: It shall not be lawful to call a strike or order a lock-out in the following activities:

1. Life or property saving;

2. Funeral and mortuary;

3. Production of coal for water, electricity, gas and coal power plants; exploration, production, refining and distribution of natural gas and petroleum; petrochemical works, production of which starts from naphtha or natural gas;

4. Banking and public notaries;

5. Firefighting, land, sea, railway urban public transportation and other public transportation on rail.

Metin Külünk has proposed the following amendment:

 4. Banking, public notaries and aviation services

If successful, this amendment would be a dangerous blow to the right to strike in Turkey.

Atilay Ayçin, Hava-Is president, said, “Once again the government is attacking on a group of workers making a stand. Workers must have a right to withhold their labour. Otherwise, they can’t exercise their democratic rights. The aim is to transform aviation workers into serfs or slaves. The AKP government wants tyranny to rein our working lives. The government singles out Hava-İş because they couldn’t manage to transform it into a puppet organisation as they have done to many others.”


20 May 2012