According to Turkish national legislation, the collective bargaining process can begin with a certificate of competence issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Since the beginning of 2012, the Ministry has not issued any certificate of competence for any trade union, including affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, which makes it de facto impossible for workers to exercise their rights of collective bargaining. With this arbitrary and illegal administrative decision, the right of collective bargaining is de facto suspended contrary to provisions of ILO Convention 98, Turkey’s Constitution as well as the Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-out Act coded 2822.
It is reported that the number of workplaces for which a certificate of competence is not issued has reached some 950 covering 350.000 workers. Obviously there will be many more if the situation continues as is. The official complaint of IndustriALL Global Union contains various examples which its Turkish affiliates have provided. Workers and trade unions cannot negotiate for their wages, social benefits and other working conditions, which make them vulnerable in defending and enhancing their rights and interests through the collective bargaining process.
The current de facto suspension of collective bargaining rights in Turkey makes workers unable to enjoy their fundamental rights of freedom of association. Since trade unions cannot deliver any service and protection to their members in newly organized workplaces, workers are very cautious of joining trade unions since they are open to all kinds of dismissal and intimidation at the workplace. There are a number of cases of this kind in various sectors which IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliates are faced with. The official complaint gives special reference to two recent cases in Turkey, Togo Ayakkabı with Deri-Is and Ceha Büro Mobilyaları with Birlesik Metal-Is.
The current situation also brings potential difficulties to Turkish trade unions in collecting dues and nominating workplace level trade union representatives. Turkish legislation stipulates that “a trade union which is a party to the collective labour agreement in force in the undertaking or, of the workers’ trade union which has obtained the certificate of competence to bargain can collect fees and appoint local trade unionists." This may potentially destruct trade unions financially and structurally.
IndustriALL Global Union’s complaint formally calls the ILO to urgently study, draw conclusions and make recommendations regarding the Turkish Government’s violations of Convention 98 with a view to restoring a full exercise of the right of collective bargaining.
Kemal Özkan, the Assistant General Secretary of Turkish origin of IndustriALL Global Union said: “While awaiting improvement in Turkish labor legislation for more freedom and extended rights, this de facto suspension of bargaining rights has narrowed the range of trade union activity. As the Ministry is not responsive to our petitions, the ILO complaint becomes an important resort to restore today’s unacceptable picture”.