Four labour union confederations announced their joint decision to end the resistance if the Tekel workers decide not to continue. The confederations consider the resistance as a success.
In a joint decision, the Turkish Confederation of Labour Unions (Türk-İş), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Public Workers Unions Confederation of Turkey (KAMU-SEN) and the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK) announced that the struggle of the Tekel workers was successful and that the resistance will end if the workers decide accordingly.
The confederations reminded that support actions for the Tekel workers are being carried out all over the world this week. They summarized their joint decision as follows:
Confederations will comply with decisions of the Tekel workers: The confederations will proceed according to the will of the workers and comply with the decisions to be taken by the Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages and Food Subsidiary Workers Union of Turkey (Tek Gıda-İş). All actions will still be carried out upon those decisions.
Successful resistance: The struggle of the Tekel workers can be considered as a success since it influenced millions of people within the country and internationally.
Government urged for a quick solution: The confederations condemned the government for remaining insensitive towards the requests of the workers and leaving them with a choice between starvation and slavery. The confederations called on the government to find an urgent solution.
Intervention unacceptable: The confederations believe that the protest movement lead by Türk-İş and started by the will of the workers can only be brought to an end if this again corresponds to the will of the workers. The interventions by the government cannot be accepted.
Not only Tekel workers: The problems experienced by the Tekel workers are a threat which might soon be faced by workers from PTT, sugar factories, energy companies and similar public enterprises.
Torchlight march and sit-down strike
Several support actions are planned for this week: Banners with the workers’ demands will again be posted at all involved workplaces. A torchlight march followed by a public press release is scheduled for 25 February. On 27 February, a sit-down strike and a subsequent public press release are planned.
71 days of resistance
The workers of the closed Tekel leaf tobacco factory demand to be transferred to other public enterprises under protection of their existing employee personal rights. Today is the 71st day of the workers resistance.
The Tekel workers resist working under the 4C regulation which would deprive them of their right to collective agreement and to strike. 4C furthermore includes a cut of salaries and severance pay without job guarantee. The workers want to work at public enterprises under the Labour Act instead.
The government on the other hand insists on 4C and has improved the regulation’s conditions, that is to say a raise in wages, extending the duration of employment to eleven months, 22 days of leave and severance pay.
This article was first published by the BİA News Agency on 24 February 2010; it is reproduced here for no-profit educational purposes. See, also, “Türk-İş Secretary-general Resigns as Tekel Issue Remains Unresolved” (Today’s Zaman, 24 February 2010); and “Mücadeleye sonuna kadar devam edeceğiz” (Sendika.org, 24 February 2010).