In the course of a couple of days, the government of Turkey has imposed decrees citing threats against national security, effectively banning thousands of workers from their legitimate right to strike.
A strike planned at Asil Çelik steel mill in Bursa, Turkey, was deemed “prejudicial against national security” and banned at the last minute on 18 January.
Today, more than 2,200 workers in 13 factories owned by ABB, General Electric and Schneider Electric around Turkey received the message that the strike was banned a couple of hours after it had started.
According to current legislation, the decree is followed by a 60-day “postponement period” for negotiations, where the parties have to agree. In practice this means that there is no chance to continue the strike after the 60-day period.
In early 2015, Turkey’s government banned strikes in nearly 40 companies. ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association has ruled that suspending a strike on the pretext that the strike would be a threat to national security is in violation of the principles of freedom of association.
"Again, we strongly condemn this blatant violation of the fundamental right of workers to strike, guaranteed by Turkey’s constitution," says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.
Kemal Özkan says that using the excuse of threat against national security does not have any rational or legal grounds.
"On the contrary, this shows the government favouring business interests rather than protecting the rights of the workers.
"IndustriALL will continue to support our Turkish affiliate Birleşik Metal-İş, and urge the Turkish government to withdraw the decree and instead create a proper environment where free collective bargaining negotiations can take place."