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ITF mission to Turkey warns: ‘further government repression likely’

An ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) mission to Turkey today warned that the government there may be preparing a further wave of repression against trade unionists. The warning comes as the delegation was prevented from visiting unjustly imprisoned union colleagues, and amid continuing police violence against union members.

Noel Coard, head of ITF inland transport sections, is one of the three-person ITF delegation. He reported: “The Commission of the Ministry of Justice has turned down our request for talks and prevented us from visiting Nurettin Kilicdogan, the jailed branch president of our union, TÜMTİS. At the same time the government has 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.”
He continued: “TÜMTİS also reported a now sadly typical incident. At a warehouse company in Gaziantep, management have been making threats and sackings of workers wanting to join the union. They assaulted and attacked workers, who then held a picket line in front of the company.  Yesterday the riot police arrived and told the workers that the Governor of Gaziantep had outlawed their protest using the state of emergency as an excuse. The riot police then broke up the protest.”
The delegation has so far 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. It will continue to meet with ITF unions and join the picket line in front of DHL Express in Istanbul.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “The delegation is uncovering further worrying evidence of the Erdogan government’s anti-union, anti-democratic agenda. We have offered dialogue and received rejection in return. Turkey, with its mass arrests, mass dismissals of public sector workers, and its efforts to intimidate and muzzle the press, is turning into a pariah nation. Once again we call on the government to step back from the brink and abide by its international obligations.”

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