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Workers not slaves: Turkish unions oppose labour broker system

8 March, 2016The Turkish parliament is debating a draft bill proposed by the government giving private employment agencies the right to hire workers in a range of sectors. If passed, the new law would entail a huge shift in the labour market, from permanent to short-term contracts, allowing the widespread use of precarious employment contracts.

The draft bill would allow companies to use agency workers as a percentage of the total workforce in particular circumstances. However, Turkish unions are very worried that this will lead to the excessive use of agency work due to “an unforeseen increase in the business volume of the enterprise” or “periodical business increases”, which employers could argue exist at any time in a production system.
A parliamentary commission has endorsed the draft bill allowing a labour broker system, and the bill is expected to come up for consideration at the Grand National Assembly (TBMM). If enacted, millions of workers will end up with agency work contracts rather than permanent ones.
Turkish trade unions, including IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates, oppose the draft, and are mobilizing their members through different campaigns.
Widespread use of agency work undermines international labour standards and limits the scope of collective agreements. Unions’ capacity to bargain effectively is crippled.
In his letter to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davudoğlu, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina says that the current draft is unacceptable and risks creating a slave labour market in Turkey:

“Together with our affiliated unions in the country we are deeply concerned and outraged about the potential severe consequences on the labour market and trade union activities of this bill.”
“We call on the Turkish Government to pull back the draft bill allowing a labour broker system, and to establish proper dialogue with all the union organizations to develop policies and instruments towards permanent, direct and secure employment based on fundamental human and trade union rights.”
In 2009, the previous Turkish government attempted to pass a similar bill without direct input from the country’s main labour organizations. The president at the time eventually vetoed the bill.