Industrial Relations in Turkey

Social Dialogue matters

Wikileaks on Kamu-Sen

Thanks to the famous ‘Cablegate’ of Wikileaks, which published about 250.000 diplomatic correspondences of the US, we can get a unique insight in how the Turkish industrial relations and the Turkish labour organizations are perceived in the eyes of the diplomats. Using the website ‘www.calbegatesearch.net’, we reviewed all the diplomatic communications regarding Turkish industrial relations issues.

Kamu-Sen

As Kamu-Sen is a politically outspoken public sector labour organization, we decided to start our research with this rightish union. In total, 23 cables on Kamu-Sen were found in the period between 2003 and 2010. Most cables are relatively innocent review of the press, except for some analysis of general strikes and one report on the general state of the labour movement in Turkey. The cables don’t provide any detailed insight on how the US views the Kamu-Sen labour confederation. Kamu-Sen once identified Kamu-Sen as the ‘nationalist oriented public service union’, yet this is no secret in the Turkish industrial relations.

2003:

  • September 2, 2003 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): After failed collective bargaining efforts, Kamu-Sen threaths the government to demonstrate and start a hunger-strike as their demands for wage-increases weren’t accepted by the government.
  • September 4, 2003 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): Kamu-Sen marched to the AKP offices as a ‘warning’ to the government.
  • September 5, 2003 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): A three day hunger strike of Kamu-Sen ended.

2005:

  • March 4, 2005 (Ankara Embassy -Report on: labor-related challenges and initiatives for Turkey’s EU Accession): Kamu-Sen President Bircan Akyildiz is said to doubt whether Turkey will ever become a full member of the EU. He is concerned about the general knowledge of the Turkish public and the fact that the Turks have ‘different characteristics’. Further, he fears that EU accession will mainly result in lower job security for public employees and states that Turkish unions are to weak to engage in collective bargaining.

2006

  • January 30, 2006 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): As TEKEL workers of KESK, DISK and Kamu-Sen blocked a highway in Adana, the police intervened with the hospitalisation of one worker as a result. Further, the protesters shouted anti-AKP slogans in front of the AKP offices.
  • July 18, 2006 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): A press statement of several non-governmental organisations, including Kamu-Sen, stated that: “Israel, in order to accomplish its Zionist goals, has been turning the region into a pool of blood by getting the support of the western forces”.
  • July 21, 2006 (Ankara Embassy – Media Reaction): “Hundreds of representatives of the Kamu-Sen labor union threw eggs at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara to protest Israeli strikes against Lebanon and Palestine.”
  • August 16, 2006 (Ankara Embassy – Media Reaction Report): Collective bargaining between the public sector labour unions and the government started. Kamu-Sen, Memur-Sen and KESK demand a 10% pay rise and the increase of the minimum wage above 1000 YTL (coming from 477).
  • October 3, 2006 (Adana Consulate – Press Review): Kamu-Sen members protested against the 1st October bomb incident in front of the Mersin State Hospital

2007

  • December 10, 2007 (Ankara Embassy – Press Reaction): A platform of NGO’s including Kamu-Sen, Turk-Is, TUSIAD, TISK and TOBB took an initiative for a ‘Civilian Constitution’. This constitution should focus on economic stability as a duty of the state. Other issues were also discussed.

2008

  • February 7, 2008 (Ankara Embassy – Press Reaction): Kamu-Sen calculated that the poverty limit for a family is 2.463 YTL. Further, they calculated that the monthly food spending minimum for one person is 940 YTL.
  • March 26, 2008 (Ankara Embassy – Press Reaction): Several NGO’s, including Kamu-Sen, Hak-Is, TISK and others, call for ‘common sense’ in the context of the AKP closure case.
  • March 27, 2008 (Ankara Embassy – Report on the call for calm on Turkish NGO’s): A review was issued on the previously mentioned NGO initiative in which Kamu-Sen was included.
  • March 27, 2008 (Ankara Embassy – Press Reaction): The NGO initiative was reported by various newspapers.

2009

  • October 27, 2009 (Ankara Embassy – Report on the national strike of the public services): Kamu-Sen & KESK declare to stage a ‘warning strike’ on November 25th. The goal of the strike is to pressure the government to change Turkish legislation which prohibits public sector strikes and collective bargaining. Memu-Sen is not participating in the strike. International solidarity will be demanded from ITUC and ETUC and Türk-Is will symbolically support the strike.
  • November 20, 2009 (Ankara Embassy – Report on the public sector strike): KESK and Kamu-Sen continue preparations for a national public sector strike on the 25th of November. The impact is unpredictable. Air transportation might be seriously hindered, while train transportation is expected to stop functioning completely, just as public education.
  • December 1, 2009 (Ankara Embassy – Press Review): The national public service sector strike of November 25 drew more participants than expected. Both representatives of KESK and Kamu-Sen reported their satisfaction with the strike results. Erdogan meanwhile declared that the strike was illegal, another AKP representative declared that this was a political strike as the two main organizing union confederations are supported by the two main opposition parties, CHP & MHP.

2010

  • January 25, 2010 (Ankara Embassy – Report on Public Sector strike): In the aftermath of the general strike of November 25, several public agencies are reviewing their employees’ participation in what is called an ‘illegal strike’. Kamu-Sen affiliate Turk Saglik-Sen announces to take judicial action against such reviews. As the State Railways Administration suspended several workers for participating in the strike, various
  • February 3, 2010 (Ankara Embassy – Public Sector Strike)(3 reports): As the TEKEL case is in a deadlock, the Türk-Is affiliated union calls for a one-day strike on February the fourth. The five other confederations, including Kamu-Sen, support the call for a strike. Kamu-Sen president Bircan Akyildiz declared that the strike a warning to the government. The government should not put the blame for unemployment on the shoulders of the TEKEL workers.
  • February 5, 2010 (Ankara Embassy – Public Sector Strike Report): the February the fourth ‘one-day work stoppage’ was a minor success. Two union confederations (Hak-Is & Memur-Sen) didn’t support the strike although they earlier communicated in favour of the ‘one-day work stoppage’.
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