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Turkey: Bill on Collective Labour Relations Act far from meeting EU and international standards

18 October 2012

Despite major concerns expressed on various occasions, the bill on Collective Labour Relations’ Act currently debated at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is very far from meeting EU and International standards.

After it started its official sessions at the beginning of October, the Turkish Parliament resumed the debate of the long-awaited bill on Collective Labour Relations Act. “Although we have seen some progress, this bill is still very far from complying with international labour standards,” said Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary.

The Act, which regulates the collective bargaining system and trade union freedoms, is replacing two laws that have been for many years under the scrutiny of the international trade union movement as well as the ILO supervisory bodies. The new Act was an opportunity for Turkey, a signatory of international fundamental conventions, to meet international and European standards.

The ITUC and the Europeat Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) deplore that this seems not to be the case.

“It is not the first time that we ask the Turkish authorities to make progress on labour and trade union rights in Turkey in particular by implementing a conducive legal framework,” added Burrow.

“What this bill is bringing is not enough. Trade unionists must have the right to exercise their legitimate role of counter power without encountering discouraging hurdles or the fear of facing constant problems. With the bill adopted as it stands now, a lot of trade unions would lose their collective bargaining rights and many workers would be deprived of their labour rights.” In May 2012, in a memorandum, the ILO listed a series of elements of the draft – on which it had been asked to comment at that time – that were clearly in violation of fundamental conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Turkey is often denounced by the international trade union movement as one of the countries with clear and constant trade union rights violations. One of the major factors is anti-labour and union legislation which is clearly in violation of fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In a letter sent to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdogan as the head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the majority party in Parliament, as well as sent to the presidents of the other parties – the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) - the ITUC and the ETUC urge them to take necessary measures to make meaningful amendments to the bill on the Collective Labour Relations Act in order to give more concrete freedom for workers on a daily basis.

The EU Commission has just released the Turkey 2012 Progress Report in which the Commission presents its assessment of what each candidate has achieved over the last year. This report clearly states that the current Turkish labour law is not meeting EU and ILO standards. However, the bill currently discussed does not include any improvements in that direction.

See the European Commissions' latest report on Turkey.

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