EPSU Executive condemns arrest of union members in Turkey – concerned about developments

(November 10) Thousands of union members have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs in the purge that followed the failed Turkish coup of 15 July 2016, said the representative of the public sector confederation KESK, in his address to the EPSU Executive Committee, on November 8th. The trade union representative reported on what has been happening in Turkey since the unsuccessful coup attempt. The crackdown on the media, the arrest of judges and critical academics, the forceful replacement of democratically elected mayors, are examples of the suppressive measures carried out by the Turkish government. The list of repressive measures is getting longer by the day.

The recent arrest of members of the Turkish Parliament, representing the political party HDP is yet another sign of the anti-democratic direction in which the Turkish government is heading. An estimated 15.000 members of KESK unions have been left without jobs, especially those in the health and education sectors, but the dismissals have gone beyond these sectors.

It is well-known that KESK has criticized the Gűlen movement and has been one of the organisations to point out how representatives of this movement obtained key positions. The government’s current policies have all the hall-marks of union intimidation. The EPSU Executive Committee adopted a statement proposed by the EPSU National and European Administration Committee condemning the coup, expressing concern regarding the recent developments and in particular the dismissals and suspensions of public service workers. These sackings have taken place under the state of emergency law. Workers suspended or dismissed do not have recourse to hearings, union representation or fair and impartial trials.  

Our colleague from KESK received a standing ovation from all of the members of the Executive Committee. They recognized the courage that is currently needed, today in Turkey, to voice and defend opinions that are opposed to those of the government, the ruling party and President. With their loud applause Committee members affirmed that Turkish workers and their unions will continue to be supported by public service unions from all across Europe. EPSU affiliates will raise our concerns with their national governments.

The European Commission adopted its Progress report on the state of play regarding Turkish eventual membership of the EU, on the 9th of November. The progress report sets out to what extend Turkey is implementing the EU acquis, creating democratic and transparent processes and administrations, and how it is making progress with regard to respecting the values of the European Union. It is critical and notes that Turkey has taken steps backwards with the use of the state of emergency law, crack down on the media etc. The Commission’s report says the re-introduction of the death penalty will lead to the end of the negotiations for EU membership.

For the statement in English, in Turkish, in French, in German, in Spanish, Swedish and Russian

Background information:

- Background document of the European Parliament on the situation in Turkey (September 2016)

- Report of the European Commission regarding progress of Turkey to be ready for Membership of the European Union, November 2016 (p.58-60 on social and employment policy)

- European Parliament resolution calling for temporary freeze in negotiations over accession due to disproportionate repressive measures

- A joint document of the European and Turkish Joint Consultative Committee. It brings together employers, trade unions, consumers are other interests

See also our previous articles :

- Continued dismissals public employees and attacks on journalists is abuse of power by Turkish President says EPSU

- ETUC meets with Turkish Union confederations: supporting trade union rights

- EPSU condemns the coup in Turkey, demands respect for democratic values and human rights from the Turkish government

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