Social Dialogue matters
Between 15 and 31 January 2014, no less than 20 new union were established in Turkey. Curiously, most of them were registered on the same address in Ankara and they all had similar names starting with PAK which is the Turkish word for pure, or clear. Examples are Pak hizmet is, Pak turizm is, Pak gida is, Pak maden is. What to think about these new unions?
Gülen moving in
The Pak-unions are related to the Cemaat-movement, also called the Gülen movement. This movement is inspired by the religious scholar in exile, Fethullah Gülen. For long, the movement had close ties to the AKP political party, yet the last years a fierce battle developed between the two.
These new labour unions should be seen as an attempt of the Gülen movement to counter the rise of labour unions with close ties to the AKP. In 2013, Cemaat already founded several union organizations in the public sector starting with the prefix ‘Ufuk’. These last are associated with the Cihan-Sen labour confederation while the private sector Pak-unions are confederated in the Aksiyon labour confederation.
Much in line with the ideology of other religiously inspired union confederations like Memur-Sen or Hak-Is, the Pak-unions refer to a corporatist type of unionism. In their official statutes, they state to see labour and capital as two parts of the same body.
Few members, with some notable exceptions
Until now, the pak-unions were not able to attract a massive amount of members. The last figures from July 2014 show that most Pak-unions have less than a 100 members. Some exceptions exist nevertheless. As such, the education branch already accounts for about 8391 members and two other branches have about 300 to 400 members. In total, all Pak-union count about 10500 members. There are membership statistics of the public sector Ufuk-unions yet. The question is whether these unions will manage to stop or slow down the rapid increase in membership of unions with the same ideological profile such as the Memur-Sen union. Time will tell.