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Turkey's labor UNIONs continue to protest against the bill

UNIONs and professional chambers have called for people from all 81 Turkish provinces to march in Ankara on Jan. 31 in protest of the draft omnibus bill. The bill is currently being discussed in Parliament and is expected to be approved by Feb. 9. Confederations and organizations will also organize protests against the draft bill on Feb. 3 in Ankara.

Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs, or DİSK, General Chairman Süleyman Çelebi urged the government to withdraw the labor provisions from the draft omnibus bill, which includes a wide array of potential new laws. “You should prepare another draft together with the social stakeholders,” Çelebi said at a press conference Thursday in Ankara, adding that laborers would otherwise not stop protesting.

Çelebi read a joint statement on behalf of representatives from the Confederation of Public Sector Trade UNIONs, or KESK, Turkish UNION of Engineers’ and Architects’ Chambers, or TMMOB, and the Turkish Medical Association, or TTB, as well.

The draft bill aims to bring new rules in the structuring of taxes and social insurance premium receivables, as well as regulations related to working life. The draft is separated into nine main parts for the organization of its discussions in Parliament’s plenary sessions during this and the following week. Discussions started Thursday.

Çelebi said the omnibus draft bill was a new wave of attack against labor’s rights. He also accused the government of “only providing incentives for investors” any time the issue of “creating jobs and fighting unemployment” was raised.

“They want to pull down wages, to remove workers’ already-limited job securities, to suppress the UNIONs, for [the sake of] the fight against unemployment. They want to seize seniority compensations, to make laborers work more but not receive any payment in return, in order to encourage investors to employ workers,” Çelebi said, adding that this was not the right way to fight unemployment.

He said working hours had to be shortened, so that employers would be obliged to employ more people. He also said Turkey was one of the countries with the longest working hours in the world, but that the government did not worry about such “labor exploitation.”