Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

The labour platform (Emek Platformu)

The history of the Turkish industrial relations is marked by the persistent presence of great divides in the Turkish labour movement. The difference between the various confederations is mostly political, yet not entirely. Türk-Is, for example, tries to uphold its historical image of being ‘parti üstünde’ (above the parties). The other two major private sector confederations (DISK and Hak-Is) on the other hand have clear ideological identities. The same can be said for the confederations in the public sector.

Nevertheless, in the recent history an important initiative was started in Turkey which aimed to overcome these ideological differences and serve as a common, unified platform for labour movement action: the Labour Platform or ‘Emek Platformu’.

The immediate predecessor of the labour platform was the in 1993 established ‘democracy platform’ launched by the three private sector confederations after the common May 1st celebrations of that year (Alemdar, 2009).

Founded in 1999, the labour platform was created as an immediate reaction to the IMF monitoring in the aftermath of the Asian and Russian financial crises in the 90’s (Schmid, 2007). The labour platform served as an informal platform which was to coordinate labour movement actions against privatization and liberalization plans of the government. Decisions are made by consensus and all the member organizations therefore have a equal weight in the platform.

The labour platform was relatively active in the period between 1999 and 2004 in which it organized several demonstrations and actions against IMF induced reforms. After the 2001 financial crisis in Turkey, the labour platform developed an alternative economic program for Turkey in response to the new IMF programs. The labour platform also tried to influence the political agenda by demonstrating against the Iraq war and by calling its members not to vote for parties that ignored the demands of the labour platform.

In 2008 the labour platform organized a successful strike against the governments’ social security reform plans.

According to Yildirim Koç (2012), the labour platform is the one and only example in Turkish history in which the ‘socio-economical identity’ took the forefront. Nevertheless, with the AKP winning the elections, the participation of Hak-Is and Memur-Sen decreased as these confederations have close ties to the AKP party. Further, the platform is mostly used by the confederations for pursuing their individual agenda’s.


Alemdar, Z. (2009). Turkish Trade Unions and the European Boomerang. (C. Visier, Ed.)European Journal of Turkish Studies, EU-Turkey: Sociological Approaches, (9).

Koç, Yildirim (06 august 2012) Emek Platformu’nun önemi. Aydinlik Gazetisi.

Schmidt, V. (2007). Trade union responses to globalization: a review by the Global Union Research Network. International Labour Office.

Today’s Zaman (14 march 2008): Labor platform’s protest expected to draw many workers.


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