Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Estimation of the unionization in Turkish Regions 2011

Union organizing in Turkey is not an easy task. The 2012 EU progress report on Turkey confirmed this by indicating that unionization (just as collective bargaining coverage) in Turkey is very low. Cited reasons are legislation, government interference, police intimidation and many others. Although there’s no exact data on the unionization rate in Turkey (link), the recent statistics of The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (link) give new insights on unionization in various regions of Turkey.

The regional unionization rate in Turkey can be approached using the combination of figures on ‘officially employed persons’ and ‘union members signing collective agreements’. The resulting percentage is a serious under and overestimation of the actual unionization rate in a certain region, but can serve as a tool for comparing unionization tendencies in various regions in Turkey. It should nevertheless be stressed that it’s a serious under and overestimation of the actual figure for the following reasons. It is an underestimation as it counts only the union members which sign a company collective agreement. All not signing union members (e.g. from other unions in the same firm) or union members in firms not covered by a collective agreement (the majority of the workplaces in Turkey) are not taken into account in this figure. Yet, the figure is also an overestimation as it doesn’t take into account all employees working in the informal economy.

In the figure below, the Turkish regions are ordered based on this very rude estimation of the regional unionization rate. The regions with a estimated unionization of lower than 2% are left out of the graph.

As can be seen, the following regions have unionization rates above 5%:

  • Zonguldak
  • Ankara
  • Kirklareli
  • Kayseri
  • Bilecik
  • Siirt

It is striking that some main industrial areas of Turkey have estimated unionization rates far below 2%. In the table below we give some of the estimated unionization rates for these regions, together with the reported population density.

Region Population Density Estimated Unionization Rate
Sakarya 154 1,85%
Adana 145 1,80%
Eskişehir 50 1,77%
Diyarbakır 89 1,51%
Hatay 268 1,43%
Yalova 200 1,32%
Ordu 150 1,16%
İzmir 285 1,12%
Trabzon 216 0,76%
Samsun 127 0,69%
Osmaniye 124 0,62%
Gaziantep 178 0,52%
Source: Labour Statistics 2011, own adaption

In the figure below, we calculated the estimated unionization rates in the greater regions in Turkey. As can be seen from the figure, there estimated unionization rate varies according to the region. The highest estimated unionization rates are observed in Central Anatolia, this can be explained by the relatively high rate in Ankara. It is nevertheless interesting that the estimated unionization rates in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey are very low. Both regions are nevertheless know for their more leftist oriented political orientation.

Publication date: 22 October 2012



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