Turkish workers say "No to Precarious Work!"
In the first demonstration against labor law reform, Birlesik Metal Is members oppose the employers' association proposal to peg the national agreement to labour law changes that flexibilize employment and working conditions.
TURKEY: On November 28, some 8,000 workers from metal sector union Birlesik Metal Is, transport sector union Nakliyat Is and private health care workers' union Dev Saglik Is took to the streets of Gebze in a march and demonstration against labour law reform under the AKP government's "New Employment Strategy".
Workers see this "New Employment Strategy" as being grounded in flexibilization of working conditions and employment with massive expansion of precarious work in Turkey. Proposed changes to the labour code include:
- Decrease the number of days on which severance pay is paid or transferring severance pay to a private fund
- Legalization of subcontracting in core work and freeing the principle employer from responsibility
- Extension of time period for flexible working hours from within a two month period to within a one year period
- Legalization of Temp Agencies
- Decrease of overtime pay premium from 100 per cent to 75 per cent
In biennial collective bargaining over the national agreement, the Metal Product Industrialists' Association (MESS) proposed wording to derogate severance pay, overtime and working hours (period for flextime arrangements) to the statutory minimum when the new labour code is passed. The representative of the employers' association declared, "from now on we will take what we want--not at the negotiating table--but by changing the labour code." Thus, Birlesik Metal Is had no choice but to reject this proposal and declare industrial dispute on November 9, 2010. The members began work-to-rule overtime refusal since November 10 and the union can take all-out strike after 60 days if the two sides cannot conclude an agreement.
The Gebze action was significant in that it was the first time Turkish trade unions have protested the proposed labour law reform. IMF participated in the action as did the president of the DISK confederation. Birlesik Metal Is president Adnan Serdaroğlu said, "We will continue the struggle against precarious work through actions in the factories and neighborhoods." DISK president Süleyman Çelebi said, "Today is the first day of a larger campaign against the proposed labour code", while the IMF representative reiterated that the Birlesik Metal Is workers were not alone but part of a larger global struggle against precarious work. Nov 29, 2010 – Hyewon Chong