ITF Press Release: Manchester United and FC Barcelona urged to raise plight of 305 workers sacked by sponsor Turkish Airlines

August 8, 2012

On the day of their friendly match in Gotenborg, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has today (8 August) written to the chief executive of Manchester United and the president of FC Barcelona asking them to use their influence with official sponsor Turkish Airlines over its sacking of 305 workers.

In the letters to David Gill and Sandro Rosell i Feliu, ITF general secretary David Cockroft described the background to the dispute between the Turkish Airlines management and the workers’ union, ITF affiliate Hama-Is.

He urged both men to use their clubs’ global reputations and their leverage now, “and to urge the Turkish Airlines management to reconsider its unnecessarily heavy-handed action and to participate in good faith in a dialogue with the union with the intention of finding an equitable and positive outcome to the dispute”.

To David Gill, he cited “Manchester United’s … mission to be socially responsible” and welcomed “the club’s commitment to tackling environmental and social issues at regional, national and international level”.

To Sandro Rosell i Feliu, he praised FC Barcelona’s “values and historical association with the defence of democratic rights and freedom”.

David Cockroft said: “We and our affiliates would much rather work with good employers to establish best practice in the aviation industry and to address the huge challenges that we face, but when this kind of victimisation happens we have no choice but to act. Despite meetings between the ITF and Turkish government representatives in Geneva and London to try to find a resolution to the dispute, talks have failed, apparently due to a lack of willingness on the part of the airline’s management to achieve a mutually acceptable solution.”

On the same day, the ITF has released a short video, Brutally Yours, as part of its global campaign against the sackings.

In May this year, Turkish Airlines sacked 305 of its employees by text message, phone or email simply for protesting against a proposed amendment to the Turkish labour law which would remove their right to strike – something that runs contrary to the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, to which Turkey is a signatory.  The amendment was rushed through and took effect on 3 June 2012.


Notes to editors:

  1. The campaign has mobilised international support for the workers and their trade union, Hava-Is. More information is available on the campaign website
  2. An online petition on Labour Start has already attracted nearly 7,000 protest emails to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkish Airlines CEO Hamdi Topcu –


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