Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Law 2821 – The Trade Union Law

WARNING: The Turkish trade union law has been recently changed. The information here is about the old trade union law. For more information read this and the page on the new law no. 6356.

Enacted in 1983, the trade union law (no. 2821) regulates the internal organization, competences and limitations of trade unions in Turkey.

Crucial articles in the law are:

  • Article 3: stating that unions are to be organized on an industrial basis and prohibiting occupational or workplace union organizing.
  • Article 9: specifying the mandatory institutions of trade unions and trade union confederations: a general congress, a management committee, a board of auditors and a disciplinary board.
  • Article 10-13: regulating the composition, competences and functioning of the general congress.
  • Article 14: which specifies that a government official is to be present at the general congress.
  • Article 15-17: regulating the composition and competences of the management committee.
  • Article 21: specifying the categories of workers that cannot legally unionize: military personnel.
  • Article 22: specifying that a notary statement is needed in order to join a union.
  • Article 29-30: regulating the protection of union officials and shop stewards.
  • Article 32-33: specifying the activities of unions.
  • Article 37-39 : specifying the prohibited activities of trade unions

Limitations of the law:

  • The Turkish Trade Union Law only allow Turkish citizens to form a union or become a union officer.
  • Unions cannot be formed on a occupational or workplace basis
  • Self-Employed, apprentices, unemployed, retired and students cannot legally be member of a trade union.
  • The fact that a notary act is needed in order to join a union seriously inhibits unionization. According to a article of DISK’s secretary of international relations, the cost of joining a unions is 47 Turkish Lira. Changing your union membership is more expensive: 138 Turkish Lira (Eliacik, 2012).


A English translation of the law can be found here.

Eliacik, K. (2012) Sendikalar Yasasi: Bir Yalanin Anatomisi. Bianet (link)


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