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Turkish glass strike ban taken to ILO with official complaint

23 July, 2014Glass workers union in Turkey, Kristal-İş, has lodged an official complaint against the Turkish government at the ILO, for violation of freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, and the right to strike.

The government issued a decree on 27 June to suspend for 60 days a major strike in the glass industry in Turkey, on the grounds of it constituting a risk to “public health and national security”. That move was a breach by the government of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Right to organise and collective bargaining.

The 5,800-worker Kristal-İş strike began on 20 June at ten factories of Turkey’s largest glass manufacturer, Sisecam.

The belligerent decree is based on article 63 of the legislative act no. 6356, the Law on Trade Unions and Collective Agreements. The legislation effectively bans the strike as it imposes compulsory arbitration following the 60-day suspension. The Turkish government uses the regressive law on a routine basis to stifle workers from exercising their right to strike. This was the ninth major strike stifled in this way by the government since year 2000. The government has never indicated a reason why any of the suspended glass worker strikes would be harmful to public health and national security.

On the day of the decree, 27 June, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina wrote to Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan:

It constitutes a clear attack on the right to strike, which is one of the fundamental workers’ rights, guaranteed by the conventions - which have been ratified by the Turkish government - and the jurisprudence of the International Labour Organization.

On 21 July, following the complaint submittal, general secretary Raina wrote to ILO Director-General Guy Ryder:

“IndustriALL Global Union fully supports the above-mentioned complaint.  We would like to apply to the Committee of Freedom of Association and the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.”

The ILO Committee of Freedom of Association has in the past ruled in favour of Kristal-İş in a complaint against the government’s misuse of this legislation.

Kristal-İş Şişecam workers continue mobilizing and conducting activities such as marching on the company headquarters in Istanbul.

See the full argument and explanation in the complaint text here.