Union of Turkish Bar Associations supports workers’ rights!

October 30, 2013

On 23 October 2013, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) held a very important meeting entitled “Flight Safety and labour Peace in the Context of the Turkish Airlines Strike Symposium.” Over 600 participants attended the meeting, which was held in Ankara.

The TBB is an organisation for Turkish lawyers, uniting over 80,000 lawyers in 79 Turkish bar associations all over the country.

A significant portion of participants were Turkish Airlines workers and Fenis Aluminyum workers who have been occupying their bankrupted factory to receive their unpaid wages and compensation payment.

Metin Feyzioglu, the TBB President, gave the opening address to the symposium. Feyzioglu denounced the unlawful practices of Turkish Airlines management and emphasised that the fundamental human rights of Turkish Airlines workers have been brutally violated over the last 6 months.

“Turkey is increasingly coming under scrutiny from the International forum regarding human rights and the rule of law,” he said. “This trend is deeply worrying. However, the Union of the Turkish Bar Association will not remain silent about such brazen violation of basic rights or any other practices contrary to the rule of law.”

Feyzioglu continued: “In addition to our mission to develop the legal profession, the TBB is also responsible for strengthening and protecting the concepts of the rule of law and human rights. This is why we are holding this symposium today.”

At the symposium the situation of workers and human rights, rule of law and the interrelation of judicial bodies within the current context in Turkey were discussed. Special emphasis was placed on the possible effects of unlawful practice on flight safety. Speakers pointed out that violating the existing legal framework by using strike-breakers can undermine flight safety, which must always be the first priority in the aviation industry.

Speakers at the symposium included academics, lawyers, trade unionists, workers (cabin crew, technicians and air traffic controllers), journalists and high-ranking bureaucrats. Kemal Ulker, the assistant secretary of the ITF’s Civil Aviation Section, was among the speakers.

Ulker said: “The TBB decided to throw its weight behind Turkish Airlines workers and their union Hava-Is as a bulwark against the increasingly unlawful practices of the airline management as well as the Turkish government. The TBB also vowed to support all workers who will face injustice in the future. This is a major gain for workers and the trade union movement in Turkey.”

In May of last year Turkish Airlines unfairly sacked 305 of its employees – by text message, phone or email – simply for protesting against a plan to remove their already limited rights to take industrial action. This attempt to remove their fundamental rights was the last straw for Turkish Airlines workers.

On 15 May 2013, Hava-Is members began an indefinite strike against Turkish Airlines over its failure to accept any proposals regarding collective bargaining and its refusal to reinstate the 305 dismissed workers. Rather than negotiate with the union Turkish Airlines have tried to break the strike by hiring temporary staff, and by forcing inappropriate work onto almost 700 Hava-Is members who are excluded by law from taking strike action. On 8 July 2013, Istanbul’s Labour Court ruled in favour of Hava-Is and found that Turkish Airlines had broken national law.

Get background to the dispute and campaign updates at: http://www.reinstate305.org

Between 7 and 20 October, ITF civil aviation unions around the world came together to take action for Hava-Is members. >>

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