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ICEM campaign for ILO 176 continues in Turkey

The ICEM took part in the 21st International Mining Conference of Turkey, sponsored by the Turkish Chamber of Mining Engineers. The ICEM’s campaign for ILO Convention 176, the Safety and Health in Mines Convention, was continued there. The ICEM, the ILO, and Turkish mining affiliates met in Ankara during the first week of May, resulting in commitments from the unions to work towards ratification.

The ICEM’s mining programme established mechanisms for mining unions in Turkey to exchange successful strategies to combat the global financial crisis. Significant examples come from ICEM mining affiliates in Africa, where different forms of nationalisation and state mining enterprise are emerging to block mass job losses. The ICEM also showcased actions by African mining unions to head off efforts by employers in taking advantage of the financial crisis.

In other news, trade unionists in Istanbul carried out an historic May Day by ending a march in the city’s Taksin Square. Workers’ had been banned from holding May Day rallies there by the military in 1980, and that ban was only lifted in the days before 2009’s May Day celebration. Taksin Square is the site of the so-called “Bloody May 1” of 1977, in which 36 trade unionists were killed. It is significant to Turkish unions, standing as the symbol for the right to assemble and for free speech.

In Turkey, 1 May this year was a public holiday for the first time, following a successful campaign of pressure by trade unions. (18 May 2009)