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Women demand more space in Turkish unions

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13 May, 2020A deep mapping exercise of women's structures and activities inside IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliates reveals the need for more space in membership and leadership of the unions.

At its last meeting on December 23, 2019 in Istanbul, the IndustriALL Turkey Women’s Network agreed to conduct a study to better understand and articulate women’s representation in union structures to help determine strategies. The mapping study was finalized with the inputs from women representatives from the affiliates. It profiled the conditions of women in the unions and shared success stories and achievements reached within trade unions.

The study examined the situation in terms of women’s representation, women's structures, gender training in the unions and provisions on women and violence and harassment in the world of work in the statutes and collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) of the unions.

The results indicate very critical points.

Women’s membership rate in the unions organized in the male-dominated IndustriALL sectors is reported to be very low. The sad reality is that women are almost never involved in decision-making mechanisms of the unions. It is observed that trade unions prefer women employees to a great extent in their expert staff, rather than at leadership ranks.

The study shows that few women’s structures are formed and defined through internal regulations and organized with a bottom up approach, actively influencing the decision making mechanisms. Some believe gender training should be included in the basic union training topics.

A positive finding is that the majority of unions have regulated provisions related to violence and harassment in the world of work in their CBAs or have started drafting these, benefiting from the rich concept set in ILO Convention 190.

As of 2018-2019, a significant proportion of unions have taken steps to establish women's structures, started gender training and created draft CBA articles on gender issues. Some unions try to make gender policy a part of workplaces and union training.

All the affiliates stated that they aim to act together with IndustriALL and other international organizations in relation to gender work. IndustriALL affiliates intend to campaign for theratification and implementation of the ILO Convention 190 by Turkey.

“Sharing the knowledge and experience revealed by this study is expected to contribute to the understanding of shortcomings of women's work in the trade unions and also to contribute to the collaboration and realization of good practices,”

said women representatives of Turkish affiliates.

“This study demonstrated once again the importance of addressing gender inequality as a major trade union issue. On the other hand, this study is expected to contribute to advocating the ratifying of ILO Convention 190 by Turkey, and creating a common struggle against all kinds of violence and harassment in the world of work.”

The 30 page mapping study is available here in Turkish.