The two following articles on the current struggle being waged by Turkish aviation workers come from UID-DER, the "Association of International Workers' Solidarity", a rank-and-file, class-struggle Turkish workers' organisation. To send a message of solidarity to the aviation workers, click here.
Turkish trade unionists protest in solidarity with the aviation workers, 16 June
Stop strike bans! Stop repressing trade-union activity!
Aviation workers are not alone!
Under increasing pressure of global crisis of capitalism and imperialist war bourgeois governments are stepping up the assault on the working class across the world to seize the rights of the working class won by hard struggles. Although the toiling classes began to resist these attacks and unemployment and poverty, the bourgeois governments keep on attacking. The governments also put nationalism and chauvinism in use alongside these attacks.
In Turkey, too, which is shown as example to those capitalist countries whose growth rates are miserable, the AKP government knows no bounds in attacking the rights of workers. The most recent attack has been the law which bans strikes in aviation industry. The AKP was reckless enough in passing the bill at one night from parliament. They did this in the middle of a prolonged process of collective bargaining in civil aviation with the biggest airline company, i.e. Turkish Airlines. The company is a state-owned company and the government is directly involved in the negotiations. The negotiations have been in a state of stalemate for more than one year due to the company’s persistent attempts at enforcing harder work conditions.
It is clear that the government seeks by this move to force the workers into a state of helplessness and make them surrender in the face of bosses in general. This move is a downright assault against the nature of the right to strike which is one of the most basic rights of workers. Many workers have now been sacked without compensation on the pretext that they have taken part in the brief unofficial strike on 29 May against the bill before it passed. These moves on the part of the company and the government aim at intimidating the workers in general. They want to create a free hand especially in aviation and wipe off the trade-union, Hava-İş. It is clear that now they will try to enforce worse working conditions and wages.
In defence of the strike ban by law in aviation prime-minister Erdoğan said “there cannot be strike in a strategic industry”. In fact strike action is forbidden by law for many industries. Now aviation has been added to these industries. There are many other obstacles to the implementation of the right to strike. For instance the government has the right to “postpone” any strike action in any industry by any pretext such as national security, general health, or “lack of good intention”. Also the government has got new plans in its agenda (a new bill on collective bargaining) to set up new obstacles on strike action.
Anti-democratic practices of bosses and the government will continue in the period ahead unless a struggle against strike bans and repression of trade-union activity is escalated. There are huge tasks to be fulfilled by the trade-unions to overcome strike bans and stop repression of trade-union activity creating more freedom for workers’ struggles. There must be a general struggle against anti-democratic laws and practices and usurping of workers rights. Now the civil aviation workers must not be left alone and solidarity with Hava-İş must be strengthened. History of the working class of Turkey shows that bans and anti-democratic practices can only be overcome by downright struggle. The great working-class revolt of 15-16 June 1970 in Turkey is a good example to remember.
These attacks in aviation are not just happening in Turkey. Similar ones are on the agenda in many countries across the world. It is very important to act in a united way and internationally as in other industries to push back these attacks. A united struggle must be waged with the spirit of international solidarity of the working class.
Let’s not remain silent against the strike ban and repression of trade-union activity and strengthen the solidarity with Hava-İş and the sacked workers in Turkish Airlines.
Lift all bans and restrictions on trade-union activity!
Stop the ban on strikes!
Unlimited freedom of strike, press, association and organisation!
Reinstate the sacked aviation workers!
Solidarity Action with Aviation Workers on the Anniversary of 15-16 June Revolt
On 16 June, the 42nd anniversary of the great workers’ revolt of 15-16 June 1970, trade-unions, political parties and democratic mass organisations protested the ban on strike action in aviation industry and sacking of aviation workers by Turkish Airlines (THY). The demonstration was held in Atatürk Airport. The Platform of Türk-İş [main trade-union confederation] Branches, the Platform of KESK [confederation of civil servants’ unions] Branches, HDK (Peoples’ Democratic Congress), UID-DER, BDSP, ÖDP, TKP and some MPs like Sabahat Tuncel (BDP) and Levent Tüzel were present in the demonstration to show their support for the aviation workers and their union Hava-İş (Civil Aviation Workers Union).
The mass gathered behind the banner “Against the Strike Ban; For a United Struggle with the Spirit of 15-16 June” and marched towards the picket line. During the march the mass enthusiastically shouted slogans such as “Aviation workers are not alone”, “Strike is a right, it cannot be banned”, “Reinstate sacked workers”, “Long live class solidarity” “Do not remain silent, one day it will be your turn”
The march ended in the picket line where the sacked workers have been gathering everyday. They welcomed the visitors by hand-clapping. The joint press statement of visiting trade-unions and other organisations was read out. After that MPs spoke to the crowd. All speakers fiercely protested the ban and called for a determined fight, unity and solidarity, also mentioning the glorious example of 15-16 June 1970 workers revolt.
The final speech was made by the chairman of Hava-İş (Civil Aviation Workers Union), Atilay Ayçin. Stressing the importance of the right of workers to strike, he said: “Strike is a sine-qua-non for us to get our rights in the face of the state and bosses. A union stripped of the right to strike is a union stripped of its power and the right to collective bargaining. They tried to block the collective bargaining for 8 months. They appealed for a change of industry thus trying to drop our entitlement to do collective bargaining. And this is what they do when we had the right to strike. Think of what’s to come when there is no right to go on a strike. It is clear that there will be no collective bargaining in the future. They put enormous pressure on our members, divide us with dirty tricks, slandering etc.” He finished his words by saying “we set out to wage a struggle and will not back down whatever the costs will be.” And he shouted the slogan “we’ll not back down and fight till the end” and the crowd joined him en masse.
The action was finished with a big ring of Halay (the most famous folk dance in Turkey) by the picketing workers who had been sacked.
Vigorous and massive support from UID-DER!
To support aviation workers and say no to the strike ban and repression of trade-union activity, UID-DER took part in the action with its contingent that marched to the starting point of the march. UID-DER’s march was under the banner “Heighten the Fight with the Spirit of 15-16 June against Strike Bans and Repression of Union Activity!” During the whole march UID-DER contingent expressed its solidarity with aviation workers with many slogans: “Turkish Airlines worker is not alone”, “Stop political and trade-union bans”, “Crisis-War-Unemployment, workers power is the only solution”, “Job security for all workers”, “Workers die as capital grows! Down with the domination of capital”, “Higher wages, shorter working hours”, “Workers of the World, Unite.” These slogans were shouted during the combined march towards the picketing aviation workers as well.
After the press statement in the picket line UID-DER did not leave the place. UID-DER Women’s Committee delivered carnations to the picketing woman workers, wishing them success in their struggle and telling them that they would not leave them alone. The importance of woman workers being on the front line of the struggle was stressed.
UID-DER’s Workers’ Chorus sang songs of fight and the picketing workers joined the ring of Halay en masse. There were fraternal conversations and exchange of experiences. Workers from UID-DER left the picket line again with the slogans “Turkish Airlines worker is not alone”, “Long live class solidarity”.
16 June 2012