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Nuclear workers building union power

27 June, 2019IndustriALL’s international nuclear workers’ union network (INWUN) met in Ankara, Turkey, on 24-25 June to discuss the nuclear sector and how changes in energy policies affect employment and labour relations.

Unions from Belgium, France, Japan, Malawi, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the US participated in the meeting, which was hosted by Turkish union Energy, Water and Gas Workers’ Union (Tes-İş). Turkey will include nuclear in its energy mix, and the first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu will be operational in 2023.

Thanking the international participants, as well as the general director of the Ministry of energy and natural resources, İbrahim Halil Dere, and the general director of labour at the Ministry of family, labour and social services, Nurcan Önder, for participating, Tes-İş general president Ersin Akma, said:

"We want to exchange information with our comrades in the unions in order to strengthen our capacity in the sector and to advocate our members and the nuclear workers in our country when they start activities in the nuclear power plant."

Valeriy Matov, co-chair of IndustriALL’s energy section in charge of nuclear and president of Ukrainian union Atomprofspilka, chaired the meeting. In his opening speech, he mentioned that 2019 marks the 33rd anniversary of Chernobyl, as well as Ukraine’s extensive experience in the nuclear sector.
 
A panel with government representatives, academia, representative from Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, ROSATOM that are building the nuclear power plant in Turkey, as well as Yuri Borisov, vice president of the Russian trade union power and industry workers, led a discussion on nuclear energy in Turkey with a perspective on the future.

Cooperation between unions in the network is crucial for a continued exchange on experiences and information. Diana Junquera, energy industry director at IndustriALL, presented an overview on the nuclear power industry, highlighting recent developments on the global level and trade union actions.
 
Occupational health and safety in the sector was discussed, raising the differences between radioactive substances and particles, and the way they can penetrate the body. Unions reaffirmed the importance of the right to know about workplace hazards, the right to refuse or shut down unsafe work, and the right to fully participate in health and safety decision-making through joint health and safety committees.
 
Participants from Japan gave an update on the sector in their country after the Fukushima accident in 2011. The meeting agreed on the need for long-term energy policies balancing the energy mix, which don’t change with every change of government.
 
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“Energy policies should serve the general interest thorough legislative and regulatory framework supporting social cohesion, equal treatment, environmental protection and better access to energy for the world. IndustriALL fully support our affiliates worldwide in their fight against further liberalization and deregulation of energy markets."

The INWUN unanimously a statement approved about the future of the nuclear sector.

The meeting ended with a visit to the Sarayköy nuclear research and training center in Ankara.

Photos from the meeting can be found on Flickr.

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