Turkey: General Strike on 4 February

The government holds on to employing Tekel workers who have been made redundant as “temporary personnel” in public enterprises.  Thus, the union confederations decided for a “general action” on 4 February, as they had previously announced.

According to Turkish Confederation of Labour Unions (Türk-İş) President Mustafa Kumlu, the workers will make use of their power stemming from production and will stop working on Thursday (4 February) between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.

This is a joint decision taken by the Turkish Confederation of Labour Unions (Türk-İş), the Hak Workers Union Confederation (Hak-İş), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Civil Servant Unions Confederation (MEMUR-SEN), the Public Workers Unions Confederation of Turkey (KAMU-SEN) and the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK).

Executives of the six trade union confederations met on Monday (1 February) in the Türk-İş building and decided for a general strike upon the government’s refusal to agree on a compromise.

At the same time, Tekel workers resumed their hunger strike they had interrupted during the negotiations.  Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages and Food Subsidiary Workers Union of Turkey (Tek Gıda-İş) general secretary Mecit Amaç told bianet the workers were expecting a general strike in case an agreement could not be reached.

“Government wants workers without power of bargaining”

The government wants the workers who were laid off upon the closure of the Tekel leaf tobacco factory to work as “temporary personnel” in other private enterprises.  In terms of working conditions, the 4C regulation, as provided in the Law on Civil Servants, means employment for less than one year.  The workers would furthermore be deprived of their right to collective agreement and to strike because they would have to join the civil servants unions.

Tek Gıda-İş executive Amaç emphasized that the workers request to work in public enterprises within the framework of the Labour Law instead of the Civil Servants Law.  In Amaç’s opinion, the government insists on 4C because they want “allegiant” workers without the power of bargaining in public enterprises.

Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had directed his ministers to investigate the situation of the Tekel workers once more, whereupon the government proposed an “improved 4C” package to Türk-İş.  According to the suggestions, the workers would work for the duration of 11 months instead of 10, they would be granted severance pay and 22 days of leave.

This article was first published by the BİA News Agency on 3 February 2010; it is reproduced here for no-profit educational purposes.  See, also, Samut Karabulut, “Tekel direnişinde turuncu atkılılar” (Sendika.org, 2 February 2010).

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