Turkey Arrests 71 Trade Unionists
July 5, 2012 7:23 am
In the early hours of Monday, June 25, 2012, Turkish police arrested over 70 trade unionists including members of the Bureau Workers’ Union (BEC), Confederation of Public Sector Workers’ Unions (KESK), the Energy, Industry, and Mine Public Workers’ Union (ESM), Haber-Sen, Livestock Service Workers’ Union (Tarim Orkam Sen), and All Municipality and Local Administrations Wokers’ Union (Tum Bel-Sen). This was the latest attack in a series of acts of intimidation against trade unions that took place under the guise of suspicion of illegal terrorist organizations. Links between Turkey’s trade unions and any real or perceived terrorist organizations have yet to be found.
Some of the detainees were released the following Friday, June 28 — but 28 trade unionists remain in custody pending trial. Those still in custody include officers and prominent leaders in their unions, who could be imprisoned on trumped-up terrorism charges based on union documents confiscated by police. Last year’s sentencing of six-plus years of imprisonment for 25 members of the Turkish teachers’ union Egitim Sen were based on “possession of books that can be found in any bookstore in Turkey, and the holding of union meetings” according to the International Trade Union Confederation. Despite the Turkish Government ratifying the International Labor Organisations’s Conventions in 2009, which outlined labor standards and principles in social dialogue, this is the third in a series of large-scale arrests since October 2011.
Education International, a global federation of teachers unions, is inviting members to campaign against this latest act of anti-union harassment and send pre-written messages to Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan. Campaign information can be found here. Additionally, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Public Services International (PSI), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Germany’s Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenchaft (GEW) have joined in solidarity to condemn the arrests and demand the immediate and unconditional release of the remaining detainees.
Image from here