Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Act No. 6356: Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining

In 2012, Turkey’s parliament passed a new ‘Trade Union and Collective Bargaining’ law, replacing the much critized earlier legislation. This new law replaces the old act. 2821 (Trade Union Law) and act. 2822 (Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-Out Act). After publication in the Official Gazette, it entered into force on november the 7th, 2012.

The main changes brought from this new piece of legislation are:

  1. The reduction of the amount of industrial sectors from 28 to 20.
  2. The possibility for non-Turkish citizens to become union members.
  3. The reduction of the age limit from 16 to 15 for becoming a union member.
  4. The possibility for employees who work for multiple employers to become member of several labour unions.
  5. The abolishment of the former need for a notary act to become a union member.
  6. The reduction of the ‘double threshold’ to 3% on the industry level and 50%+1 on the company level.
  7. The possibility for strike actions in educational services and notary.

Some other stipulations of the old law including limits to strike in several sectors and low degree of protection of union members were not changed by the new legislation.

The double threshold under the new law

Regarding colelctive bargaining, various limits to genuine ‘free collective bargaining’ remain in place (see Celik, 2012, p. 5). The double threshold regulation is changed and the ‘nationawide threshold’ which previously was 10%, is lowered to 3%. While this seems like a mayor accomplishment and improvement, it should be noted that previously, the membership calculations were significantly inflated. It is still to be seen whether the lowering of the threshold will lead to more unions being eligible to negotiate collective agreements.

Another stipulation mentions that the threshold will be lowered to 1% until 2016 for the unions which are members of one the three large confederations represented in the Ecomic and Social Council (Türk-Is, Hak-Is and DISK).

The second threshold (on the company level) remains at a 50+1 rate. An exception is made for workplaces which for establishments encompassing all workplaces of a single country (Celik, 2012, p. 5).

Reactions from union confederations:

Both Türk-Is and DISK called upon the president to veto the law. Türk-Is opposed several elements of the law, but an internal opposition group (the Trade Union Solidarity Platform) showed its opposition against the law as a whole. Also DISK opposed the new law. Hak-Is on the other hand was rather supportive of the new piece of legislation.

The international union confederations ETUC and ITUC also objected against the new law (link).

Türk-Is signalled its opposition to certain elements of the law, while DISK opposed the totality of the law.

Sources & Further Reading:

Minasyan & Uslusoy (2012) Impact of New Law on Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining Agreements. (Link)

Erdem & Erdem (2012): link

Celik, A (2012) A General Evaluation of Turkey’s New Law on Trade Unions and Collective Agreements. (Link)

Last update: August 23, 2013

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