ITF delegation warns further Turkish government repression likely

A three-strong ITF delegation on a fact-finding and solidarity mission to Turkey has warned that the government there may be preparing a further wave of repression against trade unionists.

The warning came as the delegation was prevented from visiting unjustly imprisoned union colleagues, and amid continuing police violence against union members.  

The ITF delegation consisted of Noel Coard, head of inland transport sections; Liz Blackshaw, campaigns director; and Deniz Akdogan, senior section assistant, inland transport sections. It was in Turkey from 4-8 September.  

The delegation:

  • met with the Liman-Is dockers’ union; Demiryol-Is railway workers’ Union; BTS (United Transport Public Employees’ Union); and the president and general secretary of the TURK-IS union association in Ankara. It also met road transport unions TÜMTİS and Nakliyat-Is; DADDER (seafarers’ association); TDS (seafarers’ union); and Limter-Is (dockers’ and shipyard workers’ union) in Istanbul;
  • joined the TÜMTİS picket line in front of DHL Express in Istanbul;
  • met the undersecretary and deputy undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to express ITF concerns over employers’ anti-union behavior and the imprisonment of trade unionists; and  
  • met the ILO country official to discuss ITF concerns over Turkey’s violations of freedom of association and free collective bargaining, and to express support for the call by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) not to attend the ILO regional conference in Istanbul because of those concerns.  

Mr Coard said: “The commission of the ministry of justice turned down our request for talks and prevented us from visiting Nurettin Kilicdogan, the jailed TÜMTİS branch president.   

“The government called in all ministers, and there is a strong suspicion among Turkish trade unions that an escalation in the already high levels of violence against Turkish workers is imminent. The ITF is not going away and on behalf of our Turkish members we will continue to hold the government to account in international forums.”  

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added that the delegation had uncovered further worrying evidence of the Erdogan government’s anti-union, anti-democratic agenda and that its offers of dialogue had been rejected. He warned that the mass arrests, mass dismissals of public sector workers, and efforts to intimidate and muzzle the press were turning Turkey into a pariah nation, and urged the government to step back from the brink and abide by its international obligations.  

Read more about the delegation’s visit to Turkey:  

ITF fact-finding and solidarity mission arrives in Turkey. 

ITF mission to Turkey warns further government repression likely. 

In March 2017 the ITF protested against jail sentences for Turkish trade unionists. Read more in English and Turkish, see the campaign page and visit www.labourstart.org/go/tumtis

The ITF has consistently criticised the government’s persecution of Turkish trade unions and their members, including by mounting co-ordinated international protests.

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