Tag Archives: Turkish unions

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.

Turkish Government Maintains Anti-Union Attitude

The European Union continues having misgivings concerning the attitude of the Turkish government toward the trade union movement. An EU report in 2004 noted: “the percentge of the labor force covered by collective greements remains extremely low.” Even as labor unions prepare for May Day celebrations the Turkish government is still hesitante about even allowing them to use the famous Taksim Square where in 1977 gunmen killed 37 people who were marching to celebrate May Day. Turkish trade unions believe the Erdogan government has to become more flexible and allow workers to organize and establish powerful organizations in order to raise salaries and improve working conditions.

The 2007 progress report from the EU notes “Turkey fails to fully implement the International Labor Organization(ILO)conventions in particular as regards the right to organize, the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively.” Turkish law still maintains many provisions which hinder development of a strong union movement.