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ILO Conventions and Turkey

ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations


1. Introduction


The Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs of Turkey (DİSK) has submitted several reports to the ILO about the violations of ILO Conventions (especially No. 87 and No.98.) ILO Committee of Experts has submitted reports to the Internatioanal Labour Conference and The Application Committee Reports clearly indicated the violations in Turkey. Nevertheless, the government insists to refuse to fulfil necessary amendments in laws as pointed out by the ILO. 


2. Law on Trade UNIONs


The efforts that went for a while in order to make amendments on the Law on Trade UNIONs No. 2821 and the Law on Collective Bargaining Agreements No.2822 have been submitted to the Turkish Assembly as a notice of motion of a group of deputies. It has not been submitted as a proposal law supported by the government.


The Notice of Motion was arranged differently from the text consisting of some development charges, which we, as being employee and employer confederations, agreed on. The Notice of Motion was debated in the concerning Commission in the Assembly and our critics made during these debates were not taken into consideration. 


Due to the disagreements within the Government, the Notice of Motion did not become a Proposal Law while it was being debated in the Commission. Moreover with respect to some issues, during the debates in the Commission, its content became less progressive than at the time it was submitted to the Assembly.


The last version of the Notice of Motion is different from the text we jointly agreed upon with the Government and it is not in conformity with the ILO norms.



R26;          It does not take into account the prevalence of international agreements on Turkish      national legislation, according to Article 90 of our Constitution. Therefore it does not             recognize the necessity of being organized.

R26;          It does not regulate the establishment of trade UNIONs for everyone.

R26;          It envisages the closing down of trade UNIONs in case the requirements for        documentation and information are not met, although these were abolished by the        amended Constitution.

R26;          It audits suspiciously every situation related with the worker’s right to join a UNION of    his own choosing.

R26;          It audits all information about membership

R26;          It made a law provision about the situation in which the UNION membership realized by his/her own will is terminated after one year in case the worker becomes unemployed.

R26;          It continues to interfere excessively in the internal management and activities of the       trade UNIONs .

R26;          It sustains the prohibition on the establishment of television and radio stations that        would give opportunity to trade UNIONs for informing the public.

R26;          It preserves thresholds that run counter of ILO standards and preserves the double     threshold and high enterprise threshold. 

R26;          It does not address the serious and deep organizing problems in the enterprises

R26;          It does not envisage prospects for the levels of collective agreements

R26;          It does not address authority disputes that are the subjects of law suits taking many     years

R26;          It does not remove strike prohibitions, it does not even mention the right to strike, and             it preserves prohibitions and strike postponements

R26;          It does not abolish compulsory arbitration


The envisaged amendments are not the required, demanded and ideal amendments; they are made with the aim of hoodwinking the UNIONs.


Moreover, the restrictions of trade UNION rights and freedoms have doubled as a result of the prison sentences which resulted from the amendments to the Main Penal Codes by the Law dated 8 February 2008.


Furthermore, before the ILO General Assembly, on the one hand it was promised that as a result of this speedy process the Notice of Motion would become a law by debating in the General Assembly, on the other hand as a reflection of the disagreements within the Government, the efforts have been halted. These developments illustrate that the Notice of Motion will not be debated in the General Assembly and it will be delayed to the uncertain date. It is understood that the Government will not keep the promises which it made at the ILO Conference in June 2008.


Consequently, Turkey will not be having the Trade UNION regulations that are in conformity with the ILO Conventions No. 87 and No.98. The Labourers of Turkey will be having laws that are anti-democratic, restrict freedoms, and make it impossible to make use of basic trade UNION rights.


3. May Day 2008


On 1 May 2008, the Government of Turkey once more violated the right to freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and workers’ fundamental trade UNION rights . The intolerance of the Government towards May Day 2008 was a clear infringement of ILO Convention No. 87. Please see Annex I for ITUC’s protest letter about the issue.


Three major Turkish trade UNION confederations, TÜRK-İŞ, DİSK and KESK R11; all affiliated to both the ITUC and the ETUC R11; decided to celebrate International Workers’ Day together.

The police used batons and pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons on workers gathered in front of the Headquarter of DİSK and on crowds intending to march to Taksim Square. May Day celebrations in Taksim Square have been banned by the government since 12th September 1980 coup d’etat. However other celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, Police Day and some other demonstrations are allowed to take place there.


The DİSK headquarters were under blockade and full of gas due to tear gas attacks by the police who were targeting trade
UNION leaders and workers. The first police attack was around 06:30 am. Because of the police blockade, approximately 1500 people were not able to leave the building for several hours. The police used tear gas even in the Şişli Etfal Hospital.


4. Shipyards and Occupational Accidents


In the course of last year alone, 17 workers died in İstanbul Tuzla shipyards because of occupational accidents. The accidents continue because of the lack of control. Indecent working conditions and occupational accidents continue because of the almost complete absence of any implementation of occupational health and safety measures. Occupational health and safety measures are not implemented and the necessary equipments and trainings are not given to the workers. This situation is a clear infringement of the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, nr. 155.


Furthermore the members and executive board of DISK/Limter-İş are being fired because of their trade UNION activities and they frequently face the attacks of the police. On 27.02.2008 during the strike and demonstrations members of DİSK/Limter-İş including the President (Mr. Cem Dinç) and the General Secretary (Mr. Kamber Saygılı)  DİSK/Limter-İş were put in custody. Also on 15.02.2008 Saygılı was dismissed from his job in Güven Makine (a subcontractor of Dearsan Shipyard).


ITUC, ETUC and IMF (International Metal Federation) made several press announcements and send several protest letters about the issue. Please see Annex for ITUC’s protest letter about the issue..


5. Anti-UNION repression


Workers who are member of a trade UNION face several repressions especially during strikes and boycotts. In a lot of workplaces, workers lost their job because of being a trade UNION member. In Yıldıran AŞ.,which is a transport subcontractor of Arçelik, workers who were members of DİSK/Nakliyat-İş, in Yörsan Dairy Product Factory (please see Annex II for protest letter of ITUC) workers who were members of Türk-İş/ Tek-Gıda-İş and in Desa Deri Leather Factory workers who were members of Türk-İş Deri-İş were fired.


The workers who are in strike are subjected to the repression by the police and gendarmerie. In TEGA Factory (Sincan, Ankara) where the DİSK/Birlesik Metal-Is is organized, in Kocaeli University where the DISK/OLEYİS is organized, in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality where the Türk-İş/Belediye-İş organized and in E-Kart where the Türk-İş/Basın-İş is organized  workers faced the violence of police because of being on strike. On 30.06.2008 Mr. Ali Rıza Küçükosmanoğlu, member of DİSK’s Executive Board, put in custody in his visit to strike of Kocaeli University.


In TEGA, after the strike which began in February the employer began to hire strike breakers. Even though, continuing to the production at the time of strike is forbidden by law. The repressions are existent not only during strikes but also in the renewal times of the authorization. At Bosal Mimaysan, the employer forced workers to change their trade UNION and fired stewards. We observed a striking example in Öznur Kablo, a cable producer in Tekirdağ. Starting on 14.03.2008, 11 workers were locked in a container during the working time for 13 consecutive working days because they had being organised themselves through the DİSK/Birlesik Metal İş UNION.