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ICEM, Public sector unions call on Turkey’s Labour Minister to intervene in Istanbul

A common pattern of union-busting in Turkey is being conducted against ICEM-affiliated Belediye-İş in Istanbul, and two international federations and a European union federation are calling for action by Turkey’s new Minister of Labour and Social Security, Faruk Çelik.

Metropolitan municipality workers in Istanbul have been pressured to rescind their membership in Belediye-İş, the Municipal and General Workers’ Union of Turkey, and to instead join a different “trade union” preferred by management. In a 26 July joint letter, the General Secretaries of ICEM, Public Services International (PSI), and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), united in condemning treatment of workers solidly aligned with Belediye-İş, an affiliate of all three federations.

Threats and intimidation exerted on workers by managers of the Metro Istanbul government have forced a number of workers to quit the union. Now, as many of them return to Belediye-İş, workers are being punished with forced relocation to other jobs elsewhere inside the municipality. This is especially the case for municipality employees in parks, gardens, social facilities, and municipal police services.

The ICEM, PSI, and EPSU reminded Labour Minister Çelik of the Turkish government’s responsibilities in protecting freedom of association, the right to organise with the union of their choice, and to bargain collectively with that union, as stipulated under the Turkish Constitution and Core ILO Conventions.

“Under these circumstances, we urge you to use your authority over the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to stop all the methods and means used against Belediye-İş members to resign their membership,” the letter states. (1 August 2011)