Tag Archives: EU membership

Turkey Moves To Change Union Laws

The government of Turkey recognizes it must make changes within existing laws if its application to join the European Union will be approved. Among its greatest needs is overhauling current laws pertaining to organizing trade unions. Among provisions of a new law, the need for worker to pay a notary fee in order to join or quit a union will end. Unions will be allowed to open branches abroad, the minimum age for joining will be lowered to 15 and anyone regardless of being Turkish or not, would be able to start a union. A major source of disagreement between unions and the government is the provision that unions can not begin the process of collective bargaining until they have a 50 plus one membership, unions want to be able to begin bargaining when they have reached a one-third plateau.

Another major source of disagreement is lack of protection for workers who get into conlicts with management. An employer can delay for years requests for collective bargaining. The European Union undoubtedly will be examining the final draft of any new collective bargaining agreement with unions to ensure the rights of workers are protected.

May Day Mayhem In Turkey

May Day is an occasion during which working people throughout the world march in demonstrations that ordinarily entail nothing more than a peaceful stroll through the streets of a major city. But, May Day in Instanbul, turned into a something short of torture for demonstrators, tourists, expats, journalists and the average citizen because the Turkish government exerted its power against trade unions. As the day began, thousands of police were stationed on roads leading into Taksim Square where unions wanted to hold their rally, the square has symbolic value to those in the union movement. Observers noted the police outnumbered marchers and the scene at the square became surreal as marchers clashed with police and soon were assaulted by a barrage of gas which caused many to choke and gasp for breath.

A Finnish born doctor living in great Britain named Margarita, noted in most countries, May Day is a time for “holiday, big peaceful demonstrations. This is bloody annoying. I am terrified.” Soysal, a deputy with the CHP tried to stand up to police and urge, “Don’t do this, it is wrong. Police provoked the people here. May Day is celebrated all around the world as a day of celebrations, workers paid the price for this right. But the government does not want to hear the voice of the workers. The ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) does not want an organized opposition.”

During the day, police even sent tear gas into the Sisli Etfai hospital causing patients to flee in terror. The police claim they arrested about 500 demonstrators but union offiicals believe the total is closer to 900.

The real result of this massive use of police power for no purpose other than to demonstrate the power of government is the impact of the AKP’s actions on its proposed membership in the European Union. Few EU governments will tolerate such abuse of the rights of workers to demonstrate peacefully on an important holiday.