(11 July 2017) Over 30 international trade union guests participated in the 9th KESK congress that took place on 8 and 9 July in Ankara. All parts of Europe were represented and also Brazil, South Korea and North Africa as well as ETUC, ITUC and EPSU. Such display of solidarity with the workers and trade unions in Turkey comes at a time when it is very much needed, with ongoing arrests and dismissal of public sector workers following the failed coup attempt last July 2016. Turkish authorities then introduced a State of Emergency and dismissed thousands of workers suspected of connections with terrorist organisations. This includes thousands of trade union members especially of the unions affiliated to KESK, the public sector confederation. Several of these unions are EPSU/PSI members. With over 100.000 public service workers having lost their jobs, their income and pension rights, the policies of the Government are creating a humanitarian crisis in Turkey.
All international guests at the KESK congress and the many interventions from KESK militants at the Congress stressed that Turkey is on a turning point. Further continuation of the State of Emergency and clamp down on trade union activists and other groups that criticise the current Government will take Turkey further away from path of justice, peace and the rule of law, freedom of expression, solidarity, equality and respect for all. An ETUC/ITUC delegation visted Turkey in May and met with the trade union confederations, the political parties HDP, AKP and CHP, officials for the Ministry of Labour, representatives of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), journalists and human rights organisations, the EU and ILO-delegations. The mission concluded with a joint statement of ETUC, ITUC and the Turkish unions. The visit confirmed the importance of contributing to the solidarity fund for the Turkish unions that have been affected by the dismissals.
Only the day before the KESK congress, arbitrary and wide-ranging further detentions were made of Amnesty International’s Turkish staff following the arrest of Amnesty’s chair last month.
Turkey has ratified many ILO Conventions, including C151 that states “Public employees shall have, as other workers, the civil and political rights which are essential for the normal exercise of freedom of association.”
For EPSU’s previous articles on Turkey