Workers' rights still under pressure in Turkey

The TUC continues to be deeply concerned about the attacks on workers' rights in Turkey. Free trade unions are being subject to a continuing campaign of intimidation and repression spearheaded by both private sector employers and the Turkish authorities

There are heavy restrictions on the right to organise unions and workers frequently face threats to stop them joining. In all it means that only 5.4% of Turkish workers are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Union activists are subject to judicial harassment, with another 15 women arrested and taken into custody last week while their union office was raided by police.  Many other unionists remain in prison, and peaceful union demonstrations are met with brutal responses by the Turkish authorities.

These assaults on the Turkish trade union movement are highlighted in the ITUC’s new report on Turkey. The ITUC’s report makes it clear that this failing to uphold ILO core standards is not limited to the freedom of association. The report also exposes the widespread discrimination against women in the workplace who face a considerable gender pay gap and frequently blocked from participating in the formal economy. Whilst child labour continues unchecked.Even though 41 per cent of working children are on farms, employment in agriculture is not governed by the Labour Code but by a special “Code of Obligations” that does not provide adequate protection.

The TUC has long been an advocate of Turkish accession to the EU but Turkey needs to be a nation which not only signs up to ILO Conventions but fully implements them. A Turkey which fully embraces free trade unions as an important pillar of a free society. Unfortunately, the ITUC report shows there is still a long way to go.

Sean Bamford

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