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Letter of John Monks about the Chapter on Social Policy and Employment

Dear Olli Rehn,

We have heard that the Commission is in the process of starting discussions with the Turkish Government to open up the Chapter on Social Policy and Employment within the context of Turkish Accession to the European UNION and that these discussions will focus on amendments proposed by the Turkish Government to the following laws: Trade UNIONs Act R11;Act n° 2821, Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-out Act R11; Act N° 2822 and Trade UNION Law for the Public Servants – Law No. 4688.

We are clearly very pleased to see some movement in the area of trade UNION rights in Turkey, something that we in the European Trade UNION Confederation, as well as the International Labour Organisation and the Council of Europe, have been proposing for many years.

The ETUC considers however that the proposed amendments do not enable Turkey to comply with all relevant ILO, Council of Europe and EU fundamental norms in relation to trade UNION rights.

The proposed texts include too many restrictions about the functioning of trade UNIONs, the right and scope of collective bargaining, the right to take collective action (including strikes) both in the private and public sectors.

We would like to see significant progress on the following priority issues:

1. In order to obtain R16;competence’ to be entitled to enter into collective bargaining greements, the high thresholds (e.g. representation of 50% of the workforce of an enterprise) need to be significantly reduced

2. Collective bargaining needs to be promoted at all levels, at interprofessional and enterprise level, and not just branch level

3. The right to strike is still overregulated, and the many restrictions (both to the collective action allowed and the type of workers allowed to take this action), burdensome procedures and severe penal sanctions need to be drastically pruned

4. The submission of detailed personal data on trade UNION members to public authorities and/or employers is unnecessary

5. The rights for trade UNIONs and workers in the public sector to organise, function, bargain collective and take collective action are still too restrictive and/or non-existant.

For the ETUC, there is only one benchmark: “Turkey needs to ensure that full trade UNION rights are respected in line with the relevant ILO Conventions, the Council of Europe Social Charters and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, in particular as regards the right to organise, the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively and this for both private and public sector”.

The ETUC will remain vigilant as to the protection of trade UNION rights in Turkey and will follow closely any developments in this respect, and it remains at the disposal of the EU institutions to provide any further comments and assessments in this regard. I am copying this letter to Commissioner Spidla.

Yours sincerely

John Monks

General Secretary