Social Dialogue matters
The strike of the Turkish metal workers launched on January 29, didn’t last long. By a cabinet’s decision, the strike was postponed for 60 days because it would damage the national security.
Suspension = cancellation
According to Aziz Celik (Ass. Prof. at Kocaeli University), ‘“Suspension” of any strike under the current Turkish labour legislation usually means an indefinite ban in practice, because the law imposes compulsory arbitration mechanism at the end of the sixty days suspension, unless the parties have either come to an agreement or voluntarily sought arbitration. This article means that it is extremely difficult to exercise the right to strike in Turkey.”
It is not the first time that strikes are ‘postponed’ for reasons of ‘national security’. In the past years several strikes in the glass, ruber, mining and metal industry were equally postponed for the same reason. According to the figures of the ministry of labour and social security (CSGB), in 2011 a total of 73 strikes were prohibited. This number declined to 41 in 2012 to increase again to 73 in 2013.
One could wonder how these industries relate to the national security. The 2014 ITUC (source) survey on the violation of trade union rights makes the same remark with regards to the postponed strike of Kristal-Is (Glass industry) in June 2014: “The Turkish government uses the regressive law on a routine basis to stifle workers from exercising their right to strike.”
Next to the practice of postponing strikes, the Turkish law also simply prohibits strikes in various sectors such as “funeral and mortuary; natural gas and petroleum as well as petrochemical works; production of which starts from naphtha or natural gas; banking services; and urban public transportation services carried out by public institutions; and in hospitals” (source).
Few strikes in Turkey
Partly related to these judicial interventions in the right to strike, the strike incidence in Turkey is relatively low. According to the official statistics, only 19 strikes were organized in 2013, covering less than 17.000 workers. For a working population of over 9,5 million. In the years before 2013, the strike incidence was far lower with an absolute low in 2012 of 9 strikes covering about 550 workers.
– IndustriALL reaction: http://www.industriall-union.org/metalworkers-strike-banned-in-turkey
– Aziz Celik on the right to strike in Turkey: http://azizcelik.org/2015/01/31/the-right-to-strike-under-threat-in-turkey/