And over 4,000 people have already signed a new online LabourStart petition to demand justice for the men.
The moves come after the supreme court upheld the sentences, despite previous appeals against the verdicts by the ITF and TÜMTİS, international protests and all the evidence of abuse of process – in breach of international law.
The members of the Ankara branch of ITF union TÜMTİS were targeted in dawn raids in 2007 following a complaint by a logistics company where the union had just completed a successful organisation drive, and were given prison sentences in 2012.
TÜMTİS president Kenan Ozturk said: “These arrests are part of an operation to intimidate our union, trade unions and the working class. We will never step back. We will continue developing the struggle and the solidarity for the purpose of protecting workers' rights and benefits.”
In a letter to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 13 March, ITF president Paddy Crumlin and general secretary Steve Cotton strongly protested at the government’s ‘continuing moves to stifle free and democratic trade unionism in Turkey’ and demanded that the ‘politically-motivated convictions against these colleagues are overturned’.
In a strongly-worded statement, the TÜRK-İŞ national confederation of trade unions described as ‘unacceptable’ that trade union organising was subject to a lawsuit because of a company’s complaint and that branch officials were punished with prison sentences. It added that union activities which were guaranteed by the constitution could not be viewed as crimes.
Add your voice to the demands for justice – at www.labourstart.org/go/tumtis.