ITF launches campaign for Turkish Airlines workers

July 9, 2012

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is launching a new campaign for the reinstatement of 305 sacked Turkish Airlines workers and the withdrawal of a swingeing new legal amendment that deprives aviation workers of the right to strike.

Turkey already has draconian laws that virtually outlaw what other countries regard as normal democratic trade union activities. Despite this, in May an amendment was proposed that would effectively ban all strikes by aviation workers. The proposer, a member of the ruling AKP party, later admitted that he was acting at the request of THY management. The legislation was rushed through in record time, despite international protests. Wanting to demonstrate against it, aviation workers who are members of the Hava-Is union went on a day’s sick leave – the only form of industrial action allowed to them. Three hundred and five of them were promptly and illegally sacked.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “These sackings have proved that what Turkish Airlines wants the Turkish government delivers – and vice versa. Our aim is clear, the reinstatement of these workers and the withdrawal of the new no strike amendment. The right to strike is a human right.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added: “There’s a clear attempt to make lawful trade unionism illegal in Turkey. This latest attack is targeting Hava-Is, and there’s little doubt that THY management and the government would like to see it destroyed. In the same month these sackings took place a vast police operation swooped down on KESK, the Turkish confederation of public workers’ unions, and the ITF affiliated BTS union, among others. Seventy-one trade unionists were arrested on extremely implausible terrorism related charges. There’s little doubt that the very existence of free trade unions in Turkey is under threat.”

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