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Dutch FNV supporting organising, social dialogue project with ICEM in Turkey

ICEM’s 14 Turkish affiliates have launched into an organising campaign called “Organising and Social Dialogue,” which is being undertaken as a project with support from Dutch national labour centre FNV and its international solidarity arm, FNV Mondiaal. ICEM and its affiliate on The Netherlands, FNV Bondgenoten, are coordinating the effort.

Approved by the ICEM Turkish Coordinating Committee in November 2008, the project started with an initial conference on 15-16 June in Ankara. Attended by more than 100 union officials, representatives, and experts, the conference examined different tools and instruments with a view to facilitate recruitment drives within unions. The conference also heard the experiences in other countries regarding organising and social dialogue.

At the opening session Henk Van der Kolk, President of FNV Bondgenoten, gave special attention to the importance of international cooperation for trade union success. “Trade unions all over the world are losing their strength,” he said.

“It is no longer a natural thing to join a trade union when you start work. A social Europe, a social world, cannot exist without respect for fundamental human and workers’ rights, as stated in ILO conventions,” added Van der Kolk. “The right to freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively on job conditions are basic. The right to a living wage, safe work, and social protections are also basic.”

Thanking FNV and Dutch trade unions with active involvement of the Turkish unions, ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda underlined the significance of international work in new member recruitment. “There are several examples, and one only needs to look within Turkey,” he said. “The case of Novamed and the global support received by the courageous women of this company in the Antalya free trade zone is an excellent example. We need to build on such cases, and grow the labour movement both in Turkey and globally,” Warda said.

The mechanisms of the ILO, tools provided under the Guidelines of Multinational Companies of the OECD and the UN’s Global Compact, and performance standards of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation were discussed. Also, the notion of trade union networks among multinational companies and Global Framework Agreements were also discussed.

The conference also saw active participation from trade union delegates from the Asia/Pacific Region, and from Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark, and the US. All shared their experiences on organising and social dialogue with leaders from the Turkish unions.

At the final session on 16 June, a panel composed of Turkish union representatives made an evaluation on the Turkish situation that was in line with the presentations and discussions during the two-day conference.

Following this initial conference in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, the FNV Mondiaal project will continue with regional seminars with local union officers and shop-floor representatives. A first seminar will occur in the city of Izmit on 8-9 October, while a second one is scheduled for Izmir on 5-6 November. (29 June 2009)