Thursday, May 31, 2012

Turkish Government in Major Row with Transport Unions as Freight and Passenger Flights Cancelled

Airlines on Collision Course with Staff
Shipping News Feature

TURKEY –With the country having aspirations to becoming a member of the European Union the latest row which the Government finds itself embroiled in will do little to enhance its chances. Today the global transport union organisation ITF warned the Turkish government that its attack on airline workers’ rights is dragging the country’s name through the mud and will be resisted by international trade unions. Several Turkish Airline flights today were cancelled due to unexplained ’operational conditions’ affecting both freight and passenger services.

According to the ITF, its member union Hava-Is is currently fighting a government attempt to ban aviation workers from going on strike. The country already has in place stringent legislation prohibiting most forms of widely accepted industrial action. Workers at Turkish Airlines and Turkish Technic this week went on a day’s sick leave – the only form of industrial action allowed to them – in protest at the government plan. The Turkish Technic website was down today without explanation, the company which is 100 per cent owned by Turkish Airlines, provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services, mainly to its principal.

The latest report from the local union indicates 300 Turkish employees have now been fired at Turkish Airlines, and 45 at Turkish Technic. They were sacked via text message and email, and their pass cards were deactivated – the union believes this is a deliberate tactic since if they aren’t able to enter their workplaces for three days they can be said to be absent without leave and sacked without compensation. Turkish Airlines has also announced that it will file a lawsuit against the union. According to Hava-Is, “needless to say, their aim is to smash the union”.

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) general secretary David Cockroft today jointly wrote with the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) to the president of Turkey, stating:

“As you know, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a Global Union Federation of 690 transport trade unions who collectively represent over 4.5 million workers in 153 countries, of which over 650,000 are civil aviation employees. You are also no doubt familiar with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the main international trade union organisation representing 175 million workers in 153 countries and territories.

“We write on our members’ behalf in support of ITF affiliate, Hava-Is, and to express our alarm over the attempt to outlaw the right to take strike action in the aviation industry through the recent amendment to Article 29 of the Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-Out Law proposed by a deputy of the ruling AKP party.

“The ILO has determined that the freedom of association provisions of Convention 87 implicitly includes the right to strike as an essential means by which trade unions can protect the interests of workers. An endorsement of the amendment to Article 29 would damage the Republic of Turkey’s already fragile reputation in the international community brought about by its consistent failure to respect labour rights. This fact is illustrated by the unacceptable number of complaints upheld by the European Court of Human Rights against the Republic of Turkey for violations of the right to freedom of association.

“ITF and ITUC affiliates globally, and particularly in Europe, will be mobilising to support Hava-Is and its members in their struggle to defend decent working conditions in the aviation industry in Turkey, using all lawful means available to us.

“We strongly urge you to consider the very negative message that the government of Turkey would be sending to the international community if it implements this ban, and to show leadership and foresight by sending the strike ban amendment back to Parliament to avert further escalation of this dispute.”