Turkish workers celebrate May Day in Taksim Square today, 33 years after the bloody May Day of 1977,* when gunmen, believed to be linked to the intelligence services, fired on workers demonstrating in Taksim, killing 36 and wounding hundreds in the ensuing chaos. Since then, workers were prohibited from holding May Day rallies in the square . . . until this year.
The Turkish trade unions’ joint May Day statement included the following demands: bringing the perpetrators of the 1977 May Day murders to justice; prevention of unemployment; protection of the right to severance pay; abandonment of 4-C and similar practices; better unemployment insurance; elimination of unfairness in taxation; abolition of discrimination in health insurance; the minimum wage worthy of human dignity; enhancement of occupational health and safety; amendments of undemocratic laws; removal of barriers to trade union organizing; no to subcontracting and informal economy; end to privatization; and a more effective welfare state. The trade unions say that half the Turkish workers are precariously employed, toiling in the informal economy.
* A few days before May Day, it was reported that a parliamentary commission will be set up to investigate four major incidents of extrajudicial killings in recent Turkish history, among which is the Bloody May Day of 1977.