“Olympic challenge” protest to reinstate aviation workers in Turkey

July 27, 2012

Unionists staged a vociferous protest against the sacking of more than 300 aviation workers in Turkey this morning when they attempted to hand over to the Turkish embassy in London an “Olympic gold medal” calling for their reinstatement.

ITF activists and representatives from UK affiliated union Unite, accompanied by members of London’s Turkish community, held 305 red and white balloons - each representing a dismissed Turkish Airline worker and member of the ITF-affiliated union Hava-Is.

Last night, ITF maritime coordinator Stephen Cotton returned from the Hava-Is picketline at Istanbul Airport where he expressed the ITF's full backing for the workers' fight for their jobs. He joined Rhys McCarthy, Unite regional coordinating officer, at the London protest, where they both attempted to hand in to the Turkish embassy a “gold medal” made by the union, to pass on to prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has arrived in London to attend the opening of the Olympic Games; access was denied. The medal urged Erdogan to “make Turkey proud, honour your workers on the world stage.”

Speaking at the protest Cotton said: "Our good-natured and vocal protest served to remind PM Erdogan that Turkey’s reputation internationally rests as much with the way its workers and their trade unions are treated as with the Olympic values of its athletes competing in the 2012 games. It’s a shame we were not allowed to deliver the ‘gold medal’ but it didn’t prevent us from making our point strongly.

“These aviation workers were sacked by text, phone and email for protesting when their legal right to strike was removed. The government owns the majority share in Turkish airlines so should act now to reinstate the workers and to call a halt to attacks on workers’ and union rights.“

To get involved, visit: www.reinstate305.org

Click here for photos from the demonstration.

Watch footage from the protest.

Comments are closed.