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Belgesel: Petrol-İş Tarihi

ICEM’s Turkish FNV Mondiaal Project continues in Thrace, Gebze

Started in 2009 with the support of the Dutch national labour centre FNV, ICEM’s Organising and Social Dialogue Project continued its seminars in Turkey last month. Regional seminars involving local union officials and militants in April were held in Thrace and Gebze, both areas considered to be emerging industrial zones that surround Istanbul.

There are a number of multinational companies within ICEM sectors in both cities, some of which are organised by ICEM-affiliated trade unions. There are also a number of organsing efforts by the unions.

With the overall objective to build Turkish trade union ability to recruit new members, as well as to discuss the establishment of a base to create a functioning industrial relations system, prioritizing human and trade union rights, and to promote healthy social dialogue, the seminar in Thrace was attended by 64 local trade union leaders, shop stewards, and militants from ICEM-affiliated unions, while those attending in Gebze numbered 68.

The Thrace seminar welcomed several international trade union leaders from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Spain. Celil Çoban and Mail Ürker of FNV Bondgenoten in the Netherlands, Sylvain Lefebvre and Jacques Caltot of French FCE-CFDT, Michael Wolters of IGBCE of Germany, and Isidor Boix of Spain’s FITEQA-CC.OO exchanged the experiences and trade union knowledge from their countries.

ICEM Health, Safety, Sustainability Officer Brian Kohler also shared his trade union experiences from Canada. During the seminar, a solidarity visit was made by the French delegation to the plant of Zentiva, a part of the multinational Sanofi-Aventis. The Zentiva plant is organised by ICEM Turkish affiliate Petrol-İş. At the time of the visit, there was a collective bargaining conflict. The French delegation met with company managers as well as workers, and it was decided to put the dispute on to the agenda of the European Works Council through the help of FCE-CFDT.

The seminar in Gebze in May hosted international trade union leaders from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Celil Çoban and Mail Ürker of FNV Bondgenoten and Michael Wolters of IGBCE again participated, as did Mats Svensson from Sweden’s IF Metall and Jorgen Juul Rasmussen of Dansk-El Förbund of Denmark.

ICEM Central and Eastern European Coordinator Anatoly Surin shared his trade union experiences from Russia, as well. As a prompt practical result of the seminar, IGBCE’s Wolters visited the plants of two German-based multinationals, Bayer and BASF, where he met with union officials and company managers with a view to enhancing social dialogue at local levels. It was decided to develop this particular agenda in the upcoming period.

Both seminars got presentations from Turkish trade union expert Üzeyir Ataman, Director of Education and Collective Bargaining of Lastik-İş, on union history and the current labour relations situation in Turkey. Later, the seminar focused on Power and Weak Points, Challenges and Opportunities, and Concrete Organising Targets inside Turkey, with contributions and inputs by participants from different towns around both Thrace and Gebze.

“Both seminars in Thrace and Gebze created a good environment for international solidarity after many militants did get together with their comrades from different countries,” said ICEM Rubber and Chemicals Industries Officer Kemal Özkan, coordinator of the two-year project. Özkan also made a presentation on globalisation and labour relations.

The project will continue with similar seminars in the second half of 2010. One such session will occur in September in the city of Bursa, said to be the “Detroit” of Turkey for its auto industry, as well as being known as the capital of the textile and garment industry. The other will be devoted to youth organising in the Eagean region. That will occur in October. The project will close with a conference at the end of October in Ankara. (31 May 2010)