Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters



  • Foundation data: 1995
  • Affiliated Unions: 11
  • Members: 240.991 (2012)
  • Members in management council: 7


The KESK labour union organizes public sector employees and was only founded in 1995. As public sector unionism was illegal until recently, leftist unionists organized themselves in ‘organizations’ and ‘foundations’ which transformed themselves into unions after the change of legislation.

KESK is generally known for its very progressive and militant opinions and actions. The confederation and its affiliates are frequently involved in the defense of causes that go beyond the mere interest of the workers. As such they are very active in the defense of the Kurdish cause and demand the introduction of Kurdish as a teaching language in Turkish schools.

KEKS is until now the only public sector confederation which is affiliated with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).


According to the official statistics, the KESK membership numbers have shown a slow decline between 2004 and 2010. Since 2010 KESK is growing in absolute numbers again. Yet, given the rapid rise of Memur-Sen and the steady growth of Kamu-Sen; KESK has become the smallest of the three big public sector union confederations. The KESK confederation is highly dominated by its branch in the educational sector (Egitim Sen) which accounts for over 50% of all KESK members.


Current developments:

Due to the activist and militant strategies of KESK, the union members and leadership frequently face intimidation and imprisonment by state actors. In the context of the famous ‘KCK case’, several KESK members are imprisoned.

Affiliated Unions:

  • Egitim-Sen
  • SES
  • TümBelSen
  • BES
  • ESM
  • TarimOrkamSen
  • Haber-Sen
  • Yapi-Yol Sen
  • BTS
  • Kültür Sanat Sen

Practical information:

A small documentary was made on the KCK case and the imprisonment of KESK members by ‘Protection International’: link.

Updated: June 12, 2013


One comment on “KESK

  1. Stan Squires
    June 4, 2013

    I am from vancouver,canada and i supports the general strike in Turkey.These people are fighting for their rights and for a secular society. All unions and progressive people in the world should support the Turkish People in this important fight.Keep up the good work.

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