Turkish government bans glass sector strike

23.05.2017

The Turkish government yesterday banned IndustriALL affiliate Kristal-İş from taking strike action against multinational glass manufacturer Şişecam.  

The strike action, which was due to commence on 24 May, covers 5,700 workers at nine factories. The government banned the strike on the grounds that it is “prejudicial to national security”.

The strike is over wages. Şişecam has increased its profits by 164 per cent, but offered a derisory pay increase.

The Turkish government issued a decree under Act 6356 on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreement banning the strike. 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.

The current administration has banned a series of strikes in the rubber, glass, mining and metal sectors arguing that they are “prejudicial to national security”.

The ILO 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.

IndustriALL believes that this is a misuse of the labour law that does not have any rational or legal grounds, and demonstrates that the government is favouring business interests rather than protecting the rights of workers.

In a defiant statement, Kristal-İş said:

“The strike is a vehicle we will not hesitate to use when it is necessary to defend decent wages and working conditions. We have not entered into any illegal activity, neither have be taken action that would ‘threaten national security’.

“We have warned the government and employer many times before: do not try the glass worker's patience. Glass workers have created many traditions in the past, and today, if necessary, we will create a new tradition against strike bans.”

In a joint letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches, and IndustriAll European Trade Union general secretary Luc Triangle said:

“Banning the strike in the glass sector constitutes yet another breach of international core labour standards.

“We urge you to withdraw the decree banning the strike in the glass industry, and create a proper environment whereby free collective bargaining negotiations between Kristal-İş and the managements of Şişecam can take place.”