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Metalworkers’ strike banned in Turkey

30 January, 2015The Turkish Government has issued a Cabinet Decree to postpone the metal industry strike launched by IndustriALL affiliate Birlesik Metal-Is in 19 companies on 29 January. The decree also covers 18 companies where the strike will start on 19 February.

Turkish Law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreement, coded 6356, has a provision which rules that “a lawful strike or lock-out that has been called or commenced may be suspended by the Council of Ministers for 60 days with a decree if it is prejudicial to public health or national security. The suspension shall come into force on the date of publication of the decree“.

The Government decree, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the entire cabinet, consideres the metalworkers’ strike as “prejudicial to national security”.

This is not new to the Turkish trade unions – in 2014, strikes in the glass and mining sectors were banned by the same Government with the same argument.

“The right to strike no longer exists in Turkey”, says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary. “This fundamental right, guaranteed by the Constitution of the country and international norms ratified by the government, exists only on paper, not in reality”.

The law also reads “if an agreement is not reached before the expiry date of the suspension period, the High Board of Arbitration settles the dispute upon the application of either party within six working days. Otherwise, the competence of the workers’ trade union shall be void”.

This clearly means that so-called “postponement” is actually a “ban” in real terms as there is no chance to continue to strike after the 60-day period.

Birlesik Metal-Is will certainly apply to the State Council for nullification of the Government’s Decree with a demand of suspension of its execution for being able to continue to strike.

However last experience in the glass industry in 2014 was not positive as the State Council ruled in favour of the Government, the contrary to its earlier jurisprudence on the basis of economic arguments rather than protecting fundamental rights.

Kemal Özkan further states:

It is shameful for the Turkish government to violate fundamental rights in a reckless way. However we will never give up and continue to give our support and solidarity to Birlesik Metal-Is.